Pictured is an underwater photo of a fish in the Channel Islands National Marine Park, a sanctuary for sea life
When a relative on the California Central Coast recently landed one of those hard-to-get jobs, she began photographing and learning about scuba gear for a company that sells its products to the public and government agencies. While only a small portion of the population and tourists will ever get their certification and dive off the California shores, scuba diving is big business. And those who bring that water world to life for the rest of us with their great photographs showing the amazing sea life and fantasmic colors that exist below the surface in the sea, have become hooked on travel adventures like no other.
In addition to Channel Island National Park and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, there are over a dozen California State Parks where divers can go to explore the coast. Ranging from Northern California's Mendocino coast in Schooner Gulch and Mendocino Headlands, to San Diego in the south with diving at Leucadia State Beach, the scenery is diverse and even more exciting than what's on top at the earth's land surface, say many.
It's not that hard to become a diver. Open Water Certification takes approx. 2 weekends that begin with classes and time in a swimming pool. It's as easy as signing up, getting your learning tools, going to class and getting fitted with diving gear one Saturday, and doing a dive on Sunday. After two weeks of training, most receive Open Water Certification that allows young to old to go on diving boat trips. There are more advanced certifications for deep sea diving, but you only need the open water certification card to begin seeing some incredible sights. The cost of basic scuba gear you must purchase is around $150 and classes range from around $350-450. That means you're looking at $500 minimum per person to get going.
This week as scuba professionals and sports enthusiasts converge on one of the nation's biggest scuba shows at Long Beach Convention Center June 4 & 5 (scubashow.com) the buzz will be all about the ocean- 75% of our planet -that sustains us (the human body is approx. 60% water.) Near the mega-show where seminars, demonstrations and vendor showcases take place, The Aquarium of the Pacific has a unique dive program, Dive Immersion, inviting those with certification to take training courses and help maintain the diving operations that take place at the aquarium and nearby in the Pacific Ocean. One of their projects has been to restore a kelp bed in Laguna Beach by relocating sea urchins from one location to another. Diver volunteers have carefully taken thousands of sea urchins, one by one, and put them in a new coastal home close to their old digs.
Diving isn't for everyone. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has many photos posted on their site that will allow you to see what divers experience when they go "down under" at the Channel Islands. Check out: channelislands.noaa.gov