I was struck by a statement made by a contributor this month in her article on Grand Cayman. She was talking about a touchy subject, the overall state of the reefs she knows so patently well. In her 30 years of exploring the palette of her ocean yard, she'd unwittingly had the rare opportunity to witness the big-picture evolution of growth and destruction. Sites she'd ignored for years had recently come alive for her while taking her photo students out to shoot. Reefs she thought were too diminished to support a worthy photographic element were suddenly revealing subjects and facets she'd coveted and wanted to photograph for years. She'd discovered her backyard again.
Her name, Cathy Church, is famous in many circles, especially among photographers and students of underwater photography. Her images show a both profound and delicate understanding of the ocean realm just footsteps from her home in Grand Cayman. After thousands of dives, she is definitely no stranger to these reefs.
At least that's what she thought.
At least that's what she thought. The term she used to describe her realization was a lovely continuum. And through this lovely continuum, she once again felt the tingle of a long-dormant flame of exploration at sites she hadn't visited for years. It was as if she'd awakened one morning and suddenly the town she lived in and could navigate with her eyes closed had changed, been repopulated and rebuilt with wild and wonderful new species and structures.
Of course, this kind of perspective is hard to wrap your head around in our been-there, done-that world. But more and more I hear this lovely continuum sentiment echoed not only by the old salts of the dive world, but by new young guns eager to soak up as much of the sea as they can. We recently held a contest to win a trip to Belize aboard the Sun Dancer II with Peter Hughes. The PADI Diving Society member who won had recently been to Belize and was thrilled to be able to return since she knew what to expect. For her, the second trip was a whole new experience. It's the difference between discovery and knowledge. Think of the divemasters you know. Mention a local species of fish you'd like to see and they'll likely be able to find it for you on the next dive. They're that tapped in to the rhythms of the sites they frequent. And if you talk to them, you find they're making new discoveries all the time. On the other hand, take them away for a month, year or decade, and the reef is suddenly new to them again because nothing in the sea is static.
Cathy's observation is one we all need to take to heart.
Ty Sawyer, Editor