This is a start of a series of articles about a TecRec Expedition in South Africa where a team of TecRec Divers are looking for a submarine and a pre-historic fish. We hope by our series of articles we can inspire others to explore the wonders of this world.
What does technical diving mean for you?
During a flight from United States to Europe last year I started to talk to the passenger sitting next to me. I explained that I just been diving some caves in Mexico. Hearing this he asked me what technical diving was and why I thought it was so interesting. I gave a pretty conventional answer, but later during the same flight I was thinking about the question further.
What does technical diving really mean for me and why does it fascinate me so much?
The definition of technical diving is pretty straight forward. It is defined simply as a diver who enter an overhead environment like a caves or a wreck. It is when you are diving with mixed gases and can not go straight up to the surface due to decompression obligations. That’s the basic idea of it at least. But is that really the definition of technical diving? Perhaps so in technical terms. For me however its stands for so much more. Technical diving for me is more about the possibilities the equipment and training offer. To be able to explore a world beyond most.
For me there always been a pararell between space and underwater explorations. Lot of the technical challenges space explorers face is also faced by a technical diver. We are both entering in an environment different than the one that we evolved into living in. Only 12 people have ever walked on the moon but even less have ever dived deeper than 300 meters. To enter these worlds takes years of planning and would not be possible without an abundance of complex life supporting equipment. Is it a part of being human to explore and try to push the established boundaries.
But is there any value of “just walking on the moon” or “just diving deep” you might ask yourself. For me it is because the process of doing so, we discover as much about our self as we are developing techniques useful not only in our own field, but in other fields as well. Perhaps a greater understanding how gases effects the human body in extreme environments and the development of rebreather technology used by divers might one day assist the first human’s habitat other planets. But space and underwater explorers have so much more in common than purely the technical. Both groups of explorers share an idea, a philosophy. Inherent for all exploration of all types is the opportunities that it opens up to the people doing the exploring. For some it is the opportunity to gain new knowledge. For others it is the opportunity to create wealth and expand commerce. For still others the opportunity lies in grow spiritually and to gain a greater appreciation of the secrets among us. I
It could be said that by not continuing to explore we face the risk of killing the spirit of adventure and by doing so something fundamental within us would also die. Exploration is what inspire us to greater things and to move mankind forward. It gives us hope and meaning. The environmental movement started with pictures taken of our blue planet from space by the first space explorers. First then did we realize how fragile our planet is and why it is so important to act now to prevent us from destroying all the beauty that took millions if not billions of years to evolve. My hope is that our pictures and videos from the depth of the oceans and lakes would inspire people in the same way as those pictures taken from space.
Marcel Proust said “the true voyage of discovery is not so much about finding new landscape as to get a new pair of eyes”. The ocean takes up more than 75% of our planet. The ocean got an average depth of 2000 miles and is home of a larger biodiversity and bio density than the rain forest. The ocean has more earthquakes and volcanoes than on land. You find the longest mountain range in the ocean. Most animals live here, and it is mostly unexplored. For example during our expedition in Iceland in June 2011 we dived and filmed geothermal chimneys. Those chimneys was discovered first in 1989 and many believe that it was in chimneys like those in Iceland where life began. Life around those chimneys survives through chemo syntesis rather than photosynthesis which means that all the life supporting energy is coming from the inside of the earth rather than the sun.
Our hope is that our images from places like the chimneys on Iceland would give people those new eyes that Marcel Proust referred to. And with those new eyes have a better understanding how unique and fragile the underwater landscape is. By seeing all the wonders and beauty that lies beneath perhaps we also would also realize that benefit of protecting it. I remember as a little boy sitting by the lake close to the house where I grew up. I looked down, and I was wondering, what was down there. I wanted to explore it. Today, as a technical diving instructor, I am able to explore wrecks, caves, reefs together with some amazing people while traveling around the world and for me that is one of the things that makes life worth living.
Exploration gives us hope that the future can be better, for us and for future generations. Technical diving gives you the tools to do just that….
Jonas Samuellson PADI Regional Manager, Course Director and TecRec Instructor Trainer