Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Grotto Memorial

To continue with a train of thought from an earlier post......

I’d been discussing the "2007" rock formation I witnessed on the sand flats about 40 feet below the surface while swimming at Obyan the other day. It got me thinking about the “diver code of ethics”, where we draw the line, mother nature’s destruction versus regeneration and the opportunities for free publicity all at the same time.

I imagined a group of divers (all making the peace sign) hovering over the formation while another with a camera snapped away. It got me thinking about the many dive sites around the world marked with a man made touch. Wreck dives often have small metal plates affixed to their hulls complete with descriptions of the vessel, the date of sinking and other notable facts. Other sites pay tribute to those who’ve lost their lives while diving with monuments or head stone like structures. In some small way these memorials and inscriptions help provide families the closure needed for often unexplainable, horribly tragic events. They also help serve as reminders, to those who pass, of the vulnerability we all face when entering this often-unforgiving world.

A diver examines one in a series of plaques marking wreck dives in Florida

A newly erected monument in Puckett pays tribute to those who perished during the Tsunami.

One thing I've noticed over my years of diving is anytime a diver with a camera comes across such a landmark their shutter button is put into action almost immediately. Unlike marine life, a man made structure of this type is unique only to the spot on which it rests. Snap, snap, snap – the photographer captures a unique, perhaps once in a live time moment at a very specific place underwater.

This got me thinking about the Grotto. First, just how many times a simple underwater plaque situated at the base of the mooring line might be photographed during a safety stop. Of course I had just come off a dive with Harry where I witnessed him take over 400 shots of a nudibranch at 20 feet on the rock anchoring the line. But seriously on a slow day it’s estimated a minimum of 150 divers do a giant stride off the big rock. On a busy day it can be upwards of four to five hundred (this according to the stats kept by the security guards). Now days it is almost becoming unusual to see a group of divers enter the water without at least one having a digital camera attached. Now imagine if nearly all of those divers exited the water with a photograph of themselves beside a plaque that read - The Grotto, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, (complete with GPS coordinates). Now that’s effective free publicity and word of mouth advertising at it’s best.

It also got me thinking about the Grotto in terms of those who’ve lost their lives. I do not know exactly how many have met their fate here but at present no monument of any kind, above or below the water, exists to pay respect to these individuals and their families. It seems to me it would be money well spent, especially if those passing by the inscriptions paused to consider and respect the power of Mother Nature and the need to follow safe diving practices especially in a place like the Grotto.

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Harry Blalock said...

I think that's an awesome idea Mike! Now that is somewhere that they could spend some money that would actually make a difference to positive PR for Saipan, and it would be a one time shot.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Both are great ideas, Mike. Why not start a non-profit fund, or have your CD biz sponcer a portion of the costs and use the publicity to sell more CDs.

scubatripp said...

Hey Bruce what do you say we sell the DVD at Porkys. I'll donate a part of the sales to the fund and maybe we can come up with a drink that when bought serves as a toast to those lost and a portion of the drink sales goes to the fund too. Not sure how long it would take to come up with enough but then maybe we just have to do a few fund raisers at the bar too!


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Sorry I havn't been back to this thread sooner, Mike.

Those sound like great ideas to me. Let's get together to work out the details.

My phone is 287-0687 or 322-3900

We have done some very sucessful fund raisers and I think it would jump start your idea.

I like it. Let's go.