US Destinations

Lake of Dreams: The Remaking of Tennessee's Gray Quarry

Gray Quarry, Tennesee, USA. Photo by Gordon Hutchinson
Gray Quarry, Tennesee, USA. Photo by Gordon Hutchinson

Avid diver and professor of computing Dr. Phil Pfeiffer gives an account of how the love of diving, persistence, US$100,000, and a homebrew aerator turned an abandoned quarry in the US state of Tennessee into a thriving dive site for a region that lacked one—and had lost prospective divers for want of a site.

California's Channel Islands: Kelp Diving on the US West Coast

A bright orange Garibaldi fish and crimson-colored California sheephead with red gorgonian at Santa Barbara Island. Photo by Frankie Grant

Due to their unique position relative to the eastern Pacific current, or the California Current, the Channel Islands off California’s coast receive an ideal amount of nutrients and water circulation for optimum growth of California giant kelp. This colonial algae forms forests over the rocky reefs and walls surrounding the islands, and act as one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems.

The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail

While Florida’s eastern coast certainly offers countless popular wreck dives, the Panhandle is an often-overlooked gem. The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail provides an enjoyable mechanism for divers to experience the history and heritage the Gulf of Mexico has to offer within the realm of wreck diving.

Salmon Sharks of Alaska

Salmon sharks lack a nictitating membrane, so their eyes can be seen following a subject, Port Fidalgo, Alaska, USA. Photo by Jennifer Idol.
Salmon sharks lack a nictitating membrane, so their eyes can be seen following a subject, Port Fidalgo, Alaska, USA. Photo by Jennifer Idol.

Sharks elicit strong emotions, be it the thrill of a planned encounter underwater or fear propelled by social media and lack of information. Of the more than 400 species of sharks, it is the small family of mackerel sharks that is most iconic. These sharks prompted me to share why one of them, the salmon shark, is an especially remarkable species.

Photographing Giant Manta Rays at Night in Kona Hawaii

Female reef mantas mature in eight to ten years.

Diving with giant manta rays is always an exhilarating experience. Being in the water with these large intelligent animals is always humbling. They are also spectacular subjects for photography and video. Kona Hawaii in the United States is famous for night diving and snorkeling with the local mantas. This can produce stunning images, but it does take some special techniques.

Northern California: A Dive Off the American Wild West Coast

Metridium anemone and corynactis grow on a rock while blue rockfish swim overhead, Northern California, USA. Photo by Brent Durand.

Warm rinse water sloshed in the jug as my car hugged a sharp turn on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. I looked left at the mighty Pacific Ocean, the cliffs tumbling to the sea dotted by rugged pinnacles, stretching farther up the coast than the jam band solo currently playing out of the car speakers. Deep blue, favorable conditions all week, minimal swell, no-wind forecast—only unpredictable visibility could affect the diving today.

Florida's Artificial Reefs

Oriskany, the aircraft carrier sunk off Pensacola

Miles of white sandy beaches, family vacation destinations, infamous spring break festivities and outstanding state parks attract millions of visitors to Florida annually from around the world. But there is so much more to see—especially for those who like to take their sightseeing down below the ocean and gulf waters—like the beauty and magic of thousands of artificial reefs that lie beneath the surface along Florida’s coastlines.

Washington State's Hood Canal

Over ten years have past since my last dive in Hood Canal. I’m not sure why, probably because I’ve been so focused on exploring the pristine waters of British Columbia that the extra effort of driving so far south has always deterred me. But when Adventures Down Under, a dive shop in Bellingham, invited me to join their group for a Hood Canal dive charter, I was too curious to say anything but yes.

San Juan Islands

very now and then I get an assignment close to home, which means my dive buddy and I can usually load up the car with dive and photography gear, and maybe a kayak or two, and head out for a full weekend of adventurous exploring. If the location is exceptional, like an assignment to dive in Washington State’s San Juan Islands, we often allocate several days to experience all that’s available.