dialogue about my line of work as an undersea professional. My sense of normalcy is apparently a ‘wet’ dream for numerous others. While its far from all fun and games, the allure of the underwater world is indeed what keeps me motivated to explore its numerous dimensions.
The challenge that haunts me continuously is how to afford this world to a significant portion of the population. The advent of SCUBA more than a half century ago now gives about 5 million people a firsthand glimpse on an annual basis – but the vast majority of these numbers are ever-so-short visits and purely for pleasure – by no means as a critical source for survival of our species.
And yet, we ocean advocates make claims that human survivorship depends on a renewed ocean presence and appreciation. So, where is the missing link?
I believe that we need to improve the human experience within the ocean. We can do this in simple ways by reducing costs for points of entry, making the experience more comfortable and more efficient, and by increasing the numbers exposed at a very basic level in hopes of increasing activity at the other end of the spectrum. However we also improve the human experience in a bolder way – that is in enriching our underwater values.
For example – if I were to leave the beach and spend a leisurely weekend in a submerged structure [in a comfortable manner], that underwater experience serves to significantly enrich my direct appreciation of the ocean. This is an entirely new means to experience the underwater world, and is not far fetched or cost prohibitive. This is within reach. Likewise, shedding some light on such an experience would inspire a new public appeal, promoting bolder steps to be taken by us all – rather than splash ankle deep, wade in up to your knees. It’s that simple.
It’s often hard for me to keep that perspective as I have these daily conversations here on land because diving has become ‘just a job’ in many ways. I am part of an underwater workforce. We are a small population of worker bees that does an 9 to 5 beneath the waves rather than at a desk.Today, this workforce is considered an incredibly skilled labor force with unique specialized training and technical capabilities. Tomorrow, we may become one of the masses – and that’s a necessary step, but we’ll never get there without bold and paradigm altering efforts to explore frontier limits and find our true place here on our watery planet.
Next time you bump into me here in your terrestrial world – be sure to poke and prod to hear the reasons why we do what we do as part of the underwater workforce. While its just a job by day, remaining advocates of a renewed life in the sea is our civic duty by night.