Archive for June, 2012

Project Journal, June 12th, 2012: “Wrecks”


Hello friends,

This past week has been full of big things. First, we had a team meeting, with all of our team members together for the first time in a couple of months. We started with some “paella”, which is a Spanish rice full of seafood, chicken and garlic sausage, cooked with wine and herbs, which Rudi specializes on, accompanied by a few bottles of Rioja, and even a bottle of very nice Turkish wine from Trachea. After some coffee to stay awake, we finally got to talk and discuss things. Nick had just come back from the Papua New Guinea in the Pacific, where to our surprise, he confirmed the weather is just as bad and the water as murky as here in the Atlantic. This is usually not the case, but given the circumstances, we decided that a trip that far from home, with people and gear, would be way too expensive not to have perfect conditions. David had been in the Western Caribbean recently as well and said that Cozumel, a mecca of diving that is usually not affected by dirty water given that strong currents always keep the water clean, was also suffering from murkiness. So, given that both the most protected areas of the Atlantic and the Pacific are not at their best right now, and given that we are already behind in our schedule, we made the decision to film the two episodes we had originally left for the end first, “Wrecks” and “Caves”.

On one hand, the wrecks that we’re planning to shoot are mostly very deep, between 30 and 50 meters, and at those depths, there is usually much better visibility than in the shallower water of the reefs. Likewise, the cave systems we want to visit almost always have visibility in excess of 40 meters, since they are not affected by bad weather the way the sea is. But with that positive comes a negative: the fact that these episodes will be, without a doubt, the most difficult to shoot both for the crew and myself. Which is why we had left them for the end of the series, when my training would allow me to do those difficult dives more easily and the team would be so accustomed to our procedures they would, too, be having an easier time dealing with the extreme requirements of those dives. Now however, in order to get episodes finished on time before the summer ends, we need to move our schedule forward and deal with the tremendous challenges that Wrecks and Caves will present us. I had a feeling this would be our only solution, which is why I had started training harder since last week, but I am still a little concerned about the challenges ahead. To give you an idea, on a typical diving day during the filming of Wrecks, I can very easily do the following. 20-30 dives to depths between 30-45 meters, and on each of those, I will go down on one point of the wreck, and as I’m coming back, the current will push me 80-100 meters from the point of descent, all of which is very tiring. My surface divers will need to follow me on all those dives, waiting for me at my exit point, ready to tow me back to the point of origin, not letting me use my legs so I don’t get too tired, using only their power. Then, the deep divers and the camera crew will easily stay underwater for up to 3 hours, including 45-60 minutes at the bottom, plus another long stretch for decompression. All of this while making sure we are not run over by boats passing by. And then, the next day, we need to do it all over again. But, hard as it may be, it is our only option right now so we need to get on with the program. So, this past weekend we went to test the gear, procedures and water quality at a couple of wrecks in the Florida Keys. On the first two photos, you’ll see me on the “Benwood”, a British boat that sunk off Key Largo in 1942, after being torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Lots of marine life there. The last two photos are from the Spiegel Grove, the largest artificial wreck in the world, at 156 meters in length. She was sunken in 2002 and, to the sadness of the organizers, she came to rest on her side instead of on her keel. Then, 3 years later, hurricane Dennis blew such high waves in the Keys, that even 40 meters below, the huge wreck was moved and landed on her keel as originally hoped for! As you can see, there are some very nice groupers in the wreck, including this “baby” Goliath grouper that, from his features, must be no more than 3 years old and already weighs over 130 kilos.

Stay tuned for more updates. If everything goes as planned, our “Wrecks” episode will be finished in about 5 weeks, and trust me, you won’t want to miss it!

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Yasemin Dalkilic

Project Journal, June 10th, 2012: “Caves, Tunnels and Ledges”


Having lots of fun diving in the maze of caves, tunnels and ledges that can be found by the hundreds in the reefs of the Northern Florida Keys. This shallow area, where depths average only 6-8 meters, is legendary for its beautiful coral formations, its abundant marine life and and its many wrecks. As you can imagine, being so shallow, these rocky bottoms have claimed countless ships through the centuries, from Spanish galleons full of treasure to American Civil War transports to even a trader full of molasses’ barrels, which gives the name to the most famous reef here, Molasses Reef. This area shows the very delicate balance the oceans are enduring on these times of ecological turmoil better than any other area probably. Being so shallow and with so many coral formations, these reefs are very susceptible to anything from aggressive boat traffic, where propellers can destroy delicate life that is only centimeters below, to acid rains and heavy winds. In fact, we are encountering really bad conditions during our dives here, with very murky water due to all of the above factors, but we remain hopeful since we can attest that life species, both plant and animals, are still seen here in full force.

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Project Journal, June 10th, 2012: “Training”


As an aside, now that we have started diving, I wanted to share with you something I’ve come to realize regarding my training. During my teenage years when I started practicing freediving, my main training technique was to dive, dive and dive as frequently as possible. This helped me perfect my technique and made the muscles used specifically for diving very strong, and I could dive to depths of 30-40 meters all day long, which I would do during summers. However, when I got serious about depth records and met Rudi, he made me realize that if I wanted to go deeper, we had to change that mentality completely.

He told me how what I was doing was akin to a middle distance runner who specializes in the 400 and 800 meters, who can run distances of 100 meters very easily and many times a day, but can’t do it very fast. I had to become like a sprinter, able to run 100 meters just a couple of times, and even get very tired after each time, but do it very fast. Go on Youtube and check the interviews with Usain Bolt from the Olympic Games when he set the 100 meter world record. He only ran for 9.58 seconds, but even 20 minutes after the end of the race, he is still exhausted, barely able to breathe as he talks with reporters. This is a great example of what I’m talking about. The body is tuned for quality, not quantity, for one all-out, 300 % effort, instead of many performances at 70% capacity. And ever since, this is the training I have been doing. For 13 years since 1999 when I set my first record. And now that I need to do the opposite, where I’m required to dive many times a day to shallower depths, I’m finding myself easily tired and even exhausted at times. Ironically, my body has simply lost the capacity to do something easier many times. And so, we must change my training so that I can cope with the requirements of this project. But although that type of training is time consuming and tedious, I’m willing to do it, since after all, I don’t think I’ll be attempting any more world records. I can sacrifice some of that ultra high performance in exchange for an easier time out there.

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