Monday, October 3, 2011

Scuba Certification Class with Eco-Divers, Culver City

Scuba diving has little to do with beach cleanups, or does it? When I first walked into Eco-Divers on Sepulveda in Culver City last week to get my rental gear for my open water class, I noticed their Coastal Cleanup Day poster right next to the register. 

I boarded the Mr. C dive boat in the pre-dawn light over San Pedro Harbor. The gulls and pelicans were up with the anglers that taxied out to the channel. Our destination? Catalina Island to continue my Scuba Certification course that began yesterday in Culver City's Pool, The Plunge. 

Surfrider began because people who surfed also cared about the ocean environment they spent so much time it. I have a similar sense for Eco-Divers. Although I haven't asked any of the instructors directly, I am making the safe assumption that they too care about the marine habitat that they spend so much of their free time entering. The name of their business helps confirm my theory. 

It turns out the Mr. C's boat was chartered for Heal the Bay's special on Coastal Cleanup Day that I watched recently. Another connection to my beach cleanup project, The Daily Ocean. It's looking like connections are popping up all over the place. 

In the Heal the Bay special, the anchormen narrating the show made the point of pointing out the trash in the water right where the boat was docked. The message I got? Look no further than where you are for the evidence of marine pollution entering the water. I would add that this includes inland areas whose neighborhood residence make it to the ocean rarely, if at all. Everything rolls down hill, or all drains lead to the ocean, so the sayings go. 

I hoped to make it back to Santa Monica for a cleanup Sunday night, feeling guilty that I hadn't gone out to the beach for a 20 min. pickup in a few days. But by the time we filled out our log books last night, the sun was long gone, and it was all I could do to focus on the 405 in the dark to get myself home safely after 3 dives.

This was my second dive spot, and scene of my second ocean dive ever. Scuba is a heavy, gear intensive,  sport that doesn't tolerate mistakes very well. The consequence for not turning on your compressed air tank valve for example is no air. 

That's why you have a buddy, or buddies. Meet mine - Jessie and Lane. 

Catalina is breathtaking out of the water, and equally stunning under. I love snorkeling, and body surfing, both low gear sports. Also, in my mind, both allow for more direct connection with the ocean. I may not have a board to propel me faster in a wave, but I am in the wave itself when I catch it. I may not have the ability to breath underwater for long when I free dive while snorkeling, but I do not have 70 pounds of gear with gadgets to check on my back when I do go down to see a fish closeup. 

As we head back to San Pedro Harbor though, I recounted all the marine life I'd seen that day. Did I mention the Blue Whale tail? No? How about the Common Dolphin Pod surfing the bow wake right out of the harbor that morning? The day filled up with Cormorants, Garibaldi, Wrasse and other native fish as well as a baby Horn Shark. 

We were on that boat for many reasons, most of which will have something to do with the excitement of being immersed in the ocean while able to breathe. Many people love the ocean, seeking connection with it in different ways. My hope is that the passengers on Mr. C with me will experience their connection leading to conservation. Whether they had this intention before their first dive, or not. I know my connection, and intention is only intensifying by becoming Scuba Certified.