Thursday, 7 May 2009

The BEST places in Florida and the rest of the world to take pictures underwater


DIVER MAGAZINE SIDEBAR (TO BE PUBLISHED IN JUNE 09) ABOUT DIVING AND SNORKELING FOR STEPHEN WEIR STORY ON DIVE PHOTOGRAPHERS GUIDE TO THE FLORIDA KEYS AND POMPANO BEACH (AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN)

Five Great Places To Dive and Take Underwater Photographs in the Florida Keys

1. Biscayne National Park - 95% of this park is underwater. Outstanding reefs covered in picturesque elk horn coral. Shipwrecks abound. Northern tip of the Florida Keys.
2. Wreck of the USN Speigel Grove. 155m. (510ft) retired warship scuttled to create artifical reef, 10 kms (6 mi) offshore of Key Largo. Ship originally lay on its side but after Hurricane Dennis (‘05), the ship is now upright 40m (130 ft) down. Experienced divers only.
3. Jules’ Undersea Lodge. La Chalupa Underwater Research Lab has been converted to world’s only underwater hotel. Two hotel rooms have glass picture windows onto the reef, air-conditioning, hot showers, a fully stocked galley, and unlimited diving for divers! Key Largo
4. Ten-Fathom Ledge - Unusual coral caves and dramatic overhangs provide refuge for both lobster and grouper, while pelagic life frequently cruises by. Key West
5. Tortugas Bank, 70 miles west of Key West (near Fort Jefferson) is the largest an ecological reserve in North America. The ulitmate south Florida dive. The reef has large coral overhangs, caverns and large swim throughs. The water depths range from 45' to 80' with an average visibility of 50' to 120'.

Five Great Places To Dive and Take Underwater Photographs in the Rest of the World!


1. Great Barrier Reef. Australia
2. Red Sea. Jordan. Egypt. Isreal
3. Bloody Bay Wall – Little Cayman Island
4. Palau, Micronesia
5. Fresh Water Shipwrecks – Lake Superior, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River



Five Great Places To Snorkel and Take Underwater Photographs in the Florida Keys

1. Statue of Christ of the Abyss - The bronze statue rises so close to the water's surface that snorkelers can easily view it. The statue is nestled between the coral formations of Key Largo Dry Rocks Reef in just 8m (25 ft) of water.
2. Coffin's Patch - This is not a single reef but a conglomerate of six patch reefs, each with a unique identity defined by a predominant coral species. Snorkelers head for the shallow elkhorn forests found in less than 7m (21 ft) of water. Marathon.
3. Bahia Honda State Park – Snorkel boats leave the park daily for the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary approximately 8 kms (5 mi) offshore. The sanctuary marked by majestic slopes, ledges and 7000 years of coral growth. Swim down to a cave in 4-m (12 ft) of water. Coral reef nursery inhabited by young coral recruits, juvenile fish and green conch.
4. Sand Key – Key West’s most popular snorkel reef destinations. This islet, (look for a large iron lighthouse) has an abundance and variety of coral and marine life over a 16km (10-mi) stretch of shallow coral reefs.
5. Dry Tortugas National Park boasts some of the best snorkeling in North America. Colorful tropical fish live amongst the pristine living coral. Directly accessible from the brilliant white sand beach are the shallow Fort Jefferson snorkeling areas make this area perfect for beginners and experts. 113 kms (70 mi) west of Key West.

Five Great Places To Snorkel/Photo in the Rest of the World

1. Bonaire. On this desert Caribbean island snorkelers outnumber divers by a wide margin. Walk in from shore and see unblemished coral reefs covered in sea life. Night snorkeling (bring a waterproof light with your camera) popular here.
2. Heron Island, Australia. Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Island surrounded by reefs. Just minutes from shore snorkellers are surrounded by 800 species of wildly covered fish. Swimmers often see benign white-tip reef sharks cruise by.
3. Grand Cayman Island. Walk in from the shore, or take a boat to see shallow coral reefs, hand-feed stingrays and see shipwrecks.
4. Hawaii Oahu’s Hanauma Bay is protected from the open sea making for safe snorkeling. Healthy reef teeming with butterflyfish, raccoon, millet-seed and the state fish of Hawaii, reef triggerfish.
5. Galapagos Islands. Underwater life here is just as strange as what you see on land. Snorkel at the equator with the Galapagos penguins; or swim with dolphins, sea lions and marine iguanas.

CUTLINE: Stephen Weir (me) takes a picture of the wreck of the Benwood with a nuew Olympus Tough 8000. Waterproof camera is inside a waterproof housing (double protection). Watching the process is Olympus camera marketing manager John McGuire. McGuire is also a recently certified dive master.
CUTLINE (lower): With an eye out for crocs, writer Stephen Weir (me), snorkels, camera in hand, inside this Florida Keys’ mangrove swamp

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