Beautiful seas
It's a surface interval between dives at Sterner Editorial
offices. Duds are in the wash to prepare for a trip to the
U.S. Virgin Islands next week, and the dive gear is drying
from a press trip to
Club Med Turkoise. It was more than
just a tour of Caicos Island reefs.
Beautiful Oceans, a
company that aspires to inspire deeper knowledge and
appreciation for the wonders beneath the waves, has a
new twist to its programs and is rolling it out in August at
the resort. The press got a sneak preview of what
company president Stephan Becker hopes to expand in the
Caribbean and then throughout the warm-water world.
Highly accurate reef maps were developed from hundreds
of thousands of Global Positioning System points. They
make conventional site maps look like the sketches they
are. Creating them must have been a challenge, since GPS
beams don't pass through water. Each site then was
annotated by local diving pros who marked where to find
the interesting critters and plants. Scientific data for each
also was presented in slates that can be taken along during
the dive. Besides providing lessons on marine life, the
information is a godsend to photographers, who can know
in advance whether to rig gear for ultra-wide-angle shots
of whale sharks or macro lenses to shoot tiny anemone
shrimp. Getting a sample of the program, of course,
required lots of bottom time. A site unique to Caicos is the
Thunderdome, the collapsed remains of the set for what
may have been the original TV survivor reality show.
Contestants lived in thatched huts on shore and bartered
for food, beverages and other items with "pearls" stashed
under the dome. That entailed freediving through a small
door 26 feet below the surface to look for pearls on the
50-foot sandy bottom. Along the way they could seek
scuba air from scantily clad mermaids. After a couple
contestants suffered severe lung injuries by not exhaling
on ascent, the French station pulled the plug on the show
that was so short-lived people can't recall if it was in the
1970s or '80s. The dome wreck and other sites were
plush with colorful life, including venomous
lionfish, an
invader from Pacific waters now established along the
U.S. Eastern seaboard. And if anyone reading this aims to
invade my offices while I'm at the Virgin Islands, please
say "hi" to my pet tarantulas. They find visitors amusing.
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Bob Sterner and
Barbara  Krooss
photos © 2008
Thunderdome / Barbara Krooss photo
Lionfish / Barbara Krooss photo
Alex Brylske
Relaxing at depth
Fresh seafood
Diving guide
GPS map revolution
Pillar Coral
Black Coral
Flamingo Tongue Nudibranch