At the SCUBA Show in Long Beach last month I helped staff the California Diving News booth, gave two seminars, got to introduce several seminar speakers, and was honored to present Zale Parry with the 2016 California Scuba Service Award. I spent the remaining time visiting exhibitor booths on the show floor. Needless to say, I stayed busy.
I have been in the diving industry in one capacity or another for more than four decades. So, it is probably not surprising that I know a number of the exhibitors. In fact, many are my friends and some are like my family. Over the years I have been fortunate to travel and dive in destinations around the globe with many of them, and as I wandered the show aisles my mind was flooded with the memories of a lot of wonderful people and times.
My thoughts turned to the months and years ahead, and the question of where I want to go next. After a few minutes of mulling it over, it dawned on me that as much as I would like to go and dive everywhere, what I really want to do is more diving right here at home in California.
I love to experience other places and other cultures, and see and photograph marine animals that live in reef communities halfway around the world. But I enjoy and appreciate diving in California as much as I enjoy diving anywhere else on earth. I hope you do as well.
I am not one to discourage others from dive travel, and I am not one to rate, rank and compare dive destinations. But I am quick to encourage others not to overlook what California diving has to offer. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking the diving “grass” is somehow greener if you have to get on an airplane to get to it. But those of us that have dived California know that the “grass” is bright green on our side of the diving fence.
With the influence of El Niño, diving in our local waters has been considerably different than the norm during the past year. The unusually warm water has provided local divers with everything from sightings of seahorses by the dozens to eyeball-to-eyeball whale shark swims for a few lucky souls.
The El Niño event is subsiding, and our water conditions are returning to what we tend to think of as “more normal.” That means cooler water, and in turn, that means our recently thinned-out kelp forests, a result of the warm water during the El Niño, are starting to look like those healthy, magical underwater kingdoms that set our diving apart from diving in other great diving destinations.
It’s time to get out there and enjoy what our local waters have to offer. And that doesn’t require a week of your time or an airplane ticket. All you need to do is stop by your local dive center and ask them what they have on their schedule.