Adventures with Bec The Diver
A while back we came across a video of a gray whale just off the beach in our home town of Laguna Beach. We started seeing more good things from the young woman who shot it, and realized she was a true ocean enthusiast, not only spending her free time in the ocean, but studying the ocean at University of Hawaii at Hilo, working as a dive master and preparing for a career in the ocean. She agreed to take us along on her quest to become a world class ocean explorer. Here are her adventures. --Ed.
Almost a year ago today I heard about this company called One World One Ocean. Ted, their Online Editor emailed me about a gray whale video I shot at Shaw's cove in Laguna Beach during my winter break from studying at University of Hawaii at Hilo. After checking out this "One World One Ocean" I realized MacGillivray Freeman Films, the company behind it, sounded vaguely familiar. That night I watched Journey into Amazing Caves with my parents and it clicked. Over the next months I followed what they were working on and filming. And that's when I knew I wanted in.
Not really knowing how, I dove into my interest in underwater filming/photography with my trusty GoPro Hero that caught the little grey whale.
I went back to school and did the best that I could with my limited technology. Summer came and was almost gone when I heard about Aquarius Reef Base in Florida. It was at risk of being closed and that One World One Ocean name popped up with it. They were having an online chat with the Aquanauts down at the base (50feet underwater) and I was lucky enough to snag a spot on the chat. After talking with veteran ocean researchers, explorers and filmmakers like Dale Stokes, Mark Patterson, DJ Roller and her deepness, Sylvia Earle on the bottom of the ocean, across the continent, I knew saving Aquarius was important.
My mom and I decided to start an online campaign to get support. We made some posters and posted them on Facebook. They went viral. The wife of the director of Aquarius, Samantha McKenzie, saw the posters and the feedback that they received and invited me to Aquarius to actually see what I was trying to save. Not 24 hours later I was on a plane headed for Florida.
I met most of the land-based crew in a whirlwind tour. The next day I would go to Aquarius and possibly dive down and look around, time permitting. I hopped on one of the boats expecting a quick tour dive, maybe a wave to the Aquanauts inside and back up, but half an hour before dive time I was told I would be able to go in Aquarius! Getting my gear on as quickly as I could, I jumped in with my guide and a reporter, and we descended to the base on the seafloor. Entering the wet porch we were told we had 50 minutes in the base to stay within our diving limits. After a short safety briefing we saw the smiling faces of the Aquanauts I had talked to less than a week earlier on the live chat.
"How was the dive down?
"Would you like some water?"
"We have food, are you hungry?"
They seemed delighted to see new faces.
Sitting down at the table in the main chamber, looking out a porthole, I was mesmerized by the aquatic life outside and the fact that I could eat and drink, yet was still completely underwater. The reporter set up his camera and started asking Dale, Mark, DJ and Sylvia questions about Aquarius and it's future. I sat there in awe of my company and my environment. In what seemed like only a few moments, we were given the 5 minute warning -- our bottom time was almost up. Shaking hands with these inspiring individuals I reluctantly donned my gear, did a swim around Aquarius and headed back up to the surface.
The next day the Aquanauts surfaced and I met them at the banquet that evening, and talked to them about their time in Aquarius. One of the more comical topics they talked about was their diet at the end of their time in Aquarius turns into a liquid one. This was because they had to clean out the bathroom before their decompression time and a liquid diet makes things easier. When the Aquanauts surfaced they were eager for solid food, especially fresh fruits!
Rebecca with Sylvia Earle, left, and, right, with Underwater cinematographer DJ Roller at the banquet after Mission Aquarius.
Seeing what the OWOO team did at Aquarius up close got me hooked. I’m back in California for Christmas now and came to Laguna Beach for a visit with the OWOO crew. I’m sitting in their office as I write this, and what I’ve experienced in the last year is more than I ever thought possible a year ago.
Seeing this kind of work inspires me to explore the ocean further, and I can't wait to see what the future will hold!