Scuba Diving Photos
Diving the Bermuda Deep
A thin guideline strung from the anchor is the only contact with the surface.
Dangling his legs from the swim platform in the azure Caribbean water some 18 miles southwest of Bermuda, Iliffe quietly checked his equipment. An attentive safety diver assisted him as he prepped for what would be a challenging dive.
“Can you reach the clip for my bottom-left bailout bottle? I’m having trouble,” Iliffe said. “My sledgehammer seems to be in the way.”
In a calm but firm voice, dive-safety officer Brian Kakuk reminded us that this would be the last deep mission of the project.
I understood his inference: Often it’s the final dive of an expedition that seduces divers into unnecessary risk. Intent on completing all of a mission’s tasks, divers sometimes cut corners. They let the pressure lure them into dives that should have been shelved.
Kakuk was reminding us to keep cool and come home safe. If we had to abort this mission within a hair’s breath of success to ensure our safety, we would.
Iliffe’s face is barely visible under the increasing load of equipment, now well over 250 pounds. He looks like a Transformer. I run through my own mental checklist. Rebreather: Checklist done. Four bailout tanks: Check. Camera on the transom: Check. Video lights, camera strobes, sample bag, measuring tape, reel, lift bags: All checked. Checked. And double-checked.
With my Sentinel rebreather, bailout tanks and video gear, gravity is not my friend. Slipping off the platform, it’s a relief to hang weightless, the bulk of my equipment suspended and neutral. Support diver Gil Nolan swims in a tight circle around me, giving me a final look, tugging on my gear, then nods approval to Kakuk. Alex Chequer from the Bermuda BioStation radios the Fisheries Department and the hospital, informing them that we are ready to descend. You could cut the tension with a knife, but it’s reassuring to know the entire island is on standby, supporting us with a safety team some 35 miles long.
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