Cold Water Images Logo


Divers, Divers
. . . and just when I was all set to take one of my very best self-portraits
ever, someone had to stick his nose in the shot and mess up everything! This
harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) is doing a pretty good job of pushing me
aside. Yes, those are his claws on my head. And yes, they're sharp and can be
felt through a drysuit hood, even the half-inch one I'm wearing. Note the
quarter-inch of water in the bottom of my mask. This is a side-effect of
roughhousing with the fuzzball -- or maybe it's just from an intense fit of the
giggles. This guy is quite the bully, actually. On this dive I'd spent over an
hour playing with a seal that was bit by bit working up enough the courage to do
something more than sneak up from behind to give a little fin tug. A few seconds
before this shot was taken, this original animal was chased off by the snarls of
the animal pictured. Proof, I guess, that competition in nature can be pretty
fierce, even in the pursuit of leisure -- and, I'm pretty sure this is what they
have in mind. Certainly, I'm sure they've figured out by now that my fins aren't
edible. You can't actually see my fins in this shot, you can clearly see some of
the other gear choices I've made (both good and bad). You'll have to indulge me
as I blab about dive gear for a bit. If you don't want to humor me in this
regard, well, then you can just move on to the next caption or something. First
off, photographers (artists that we are) often dress entirely in black. Clearly
that's what I'm doing. Black is pragmatic, (it doesn't show dirt and all), but
is a poor choice if you're going to be someone else's model. Everything black
gets swallowed up into one giant blob. Worse yet, every teeny, eeny, bit of
backscatter looks like a great big honking chunk when it's in front of a black
background. When choosing a color, consider blue, it looks great. My next suit?
Black with white speckles. Why? It's the only color in which the material I
wanted is available. At least, maybe the backscatter will be hidden among all
the speckles. The hood I'm wearing is a custom Otter Bay Wetsuits hood. Pure
genius, these hoods. You have no excuse for not owning one -- well, maybe if you
live in Nebraska you have an excuse, but certainly not if you're a diver, cold
or warm water. The one catch with the Otter hood is that it comes with a giant
Otter Bay logo. I could do without this, I consider it to be in much the same
league as license plate frames emblazoned with a auto dealer's name. I own dry
gloves which are bright blue -- again due to limited availability of colors.
While these have unintentionally made their appearance in far more than one shot
they thankfully can't be seen in a standard self-portrait like this one. This
mask is proof that the best gear is not always the most expensive. In fact,
apart from what you find at the drug store, this Oceanic Mini Shadow is about
the least expensive mask I've seen. If it fits you, buy one. If it doesn't
there's a non-mini version of the same mask so you might try that one. If that
doesn't fit either, then, well, too bad for you. I should admit that while I
don't represent Oceanic in any formal capacity, they have been paying customers
in the past. It's still a good mask, you have my word on it. Of course, I've
made some not-so-good gear choices also. Take the primary regulator I'm using
here (the thing in my mouth). It's plated with 100% pure unobtainium so it was
really spendy. Why? No reason, I just couldn't stand the thought that somewhere,
somehow, there might maybe be someone with more expensive gear than mine. Dive
gear manufactures are fond of such gimmicks. With a little bit of rational
thought (hard for some of us, I know) it shouldn't be too hard to avoid most of

    "Tanker Reef", Monterey Bay, California
    October 22, 2006

Divers, Divers
Clinton Bauder peers into the wheelhouse of the FS-172 Boston. Likely the
swift current is at least partly responsible for the beautiful soft corals
adorning this wreck. Perhaps this strong current, or the way it swirls through
the cavities in the ship also explains why the small fish in this image are
swimming upsidedown! While jumping in the water for a dive is often magical in
that one is instantly transported to an enticing and fantastic environment, the
experience of this dive seems to have been turned on its head. It is not the
start of the dive that sticks in my mind, but the end. At shallow depths, the
crystal blue water seen in this picture turned to a turbid white that concealed
even my own feet. On the surface, wind screamed and waves broke with fury on the
lava rocks not more than fifty feet away. Confusion seemed to abound and I
scrambled to doff equipment and climb into the inflatable, all while minding the
danger of the near by beach. In the midst of this, like some beam of sun in a
tempest, children from some local village, laughed and waved to me from the palm
trees behind the breakers. Despite my discomfort in my situation, I couldn't
suppress a return wave. During my entire time in New Guinea, local adults and
children alike trailed after divers, expressing deep fascination, perhaps even
awe. At no other time, however, was the barrier of the fishbowl in which we were
watched broken. Yet it seemed to have been broken by this simple wave.

    "Wewak and Madang", Papua New Guinea
    August 21, 2005

Clinton Bauder waits for a pick-up in front of the Dillon Rock beacon. You may
notice Clinton in an awfull lot of my shots. Yes, I live in San Francisco, but
no, I don't have a "special affinity" for Clinton. In truth, it's not easy to
find someone with the dive skills needed to be a good model. Clinton's certainly
a good guy, but I think I'd prefer a blonde with big bashfull eyes that are
striking, even through dive gear -- provided, of course, she could hold a 10 ft.
stop with aplomb.

    "Dillon Rock", Shushartie Bay, British Columbia
    September 6, 2006

Divers, Divers
Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) and Mark Lloyd

    "Middle Farallon", Farallon Islands, California
    February 3, 2007

Divers, Giant plumed anemone, Metridium farcimen, Divers
A sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) on the move near some
Metridium farcimen. Chuck Tribolet was kind enough to pose, completing
the scene.

    "Hopkins Deep Reef", Monterey Bay, California
    May 14, 2006

Clinton Bauder, David Chamberlin, and Craig de Wit under a billowing cloud of
muddy river water. Cold, opaque river water is slow to mix with the Bismark
sea's salt water. As such, on this dive, I couldn't see my hand when I pressed
it against my mask at a depth of 10 feet. Below a depth of about 40 feet,
however, the water was a beautiful blue.

    "Wewak and Madang", Papua New Guinea
    August 18, 2005

Divers, Divers
Clinton Bauder takes a close look at a pipefish (Syngnathus sp.).

    "Tanker Reef", Monterey Bay, California
    January 15, 2006

David Chamberlin looking at some invertebrates. If you look closely, you may be
able to see the goby resting the this sea whip. Not surprisingly, I didn't see
this little guy when the shot was taken.

    "Wewak and Madang", Papua New Guinea
    August 20, 2005

Divers, Divers
Self-portrait of me having something of a bad hair day. Yes, I had a horrible
headache after this dive. This rather interesting harbor seal (Phoca
vitulina) behavior isn't nearly as threatening as it appears. On one
occasion, however, a seal managed to work a tooth under the stitching of my
drysuit hood. This gave the animal an excellent purchase and a battle for
possession of my hood (and mask!) ensued.

    "Tanker Reef", Monterey Bay, California
    October 8, 2005

Footer icon