Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Big Day in History - Diver Meet Up

A big day in history yesterday! Sure Barry Bonds finally broke Hanks record and the China “machine” unveiled what will be a yearlong celebration of the upcoming Olympics! But who really cares on both accounts, after all, I’m Canadian so Hockey is King and I feel for the athletes that will have to compete in that pea soup like fog of noxious chemicals! Trust me, I was happy to watch the highlights at 5AM this morning since they eventually tamed all the diving thoughts running through my head and allowed me to fall back asleep.

No, the real news of the day was the Diver Meet Up at Oleai beach bar!

Wholly crap, I’m excited. What a turn out on our first night. Great ideas, lots of discussion, divers getting to know one another and speaking passionately about what they love and of course a FAMB or two!

To try and summarize the whole night with all the ideas would be a very difficult task but the bottom line is we all agreed to do it again next week and likely every two weeks after that so if you missed this one, no worries, we’ll see you, same time, same place, next week – Wed August 15th!
There was a good cross section of folks from divers (duh) and non-divers to folks who speak Russian, German, and Japanese. We had people with little or no internet experience to folks who know the business. People with a direct vested interest in seeing the dive market grow and those who just want to share their thoughts and dive. With 40 or 50 people I’m sure I speak for Harry when I say we were blown away by the response and we were lucky to have Walt (a non-diver to this point) help moderate and Angelo to furiously take notes on his laptop.
The general theme, lots of people and different groups are doing their own thing in their own way to promote diving or maintain the dive sites here but there does not exist one central place where divers, either local or from abroad, can go to find good quality information about what the Mariana islands has to offer divers. The consensus is that we do have something unique here. We may not be able to compete, dive for dive, with Palau’s Blue Corner (who can really) but to a “T” everyone agreed there are things about diving here that are special and that we should (and can) do a better job of coming together, pooling resources such as language abilities and internet skills in order to get the word out and put us on the diving map.

How many people know that for at least the past few years there have been Whale Shark sightings just outside the Grotto’s caverns during the months of May to July? This year, thanks to the folks at seabreeze (I’m using their photo here), we have documented proof.

How many people who don’t live here and are looking for a place to dive know that on Saipan you have easy beach access to dive sites on all four sides of the island anytime of the day or night! How many people know about the untouched beauty and diversity of Rota and Tinian? How many people would be interested in hearing about our coral spawning or mating nudibranchs from a knowledgeable member of the local scientific community!

You get my point the need for a central portal and the desire and passion to make it happen has been established. Now what we desperately need is for that cross section of people to grow especially in terms of bringing all nationalities to the table. Another theme that rang throughout the night revolves around one of the biggest obstacles (and perhaps biggest assets) we have when it comes to promoting our islands on a global basis and that is the diversity of language and culture. Although it provides for a hurdle logistically, cultivating this aspect and unique distinction is also the key to establishing a truly global reach and establishing a foundation for long-term success that can endure bumps in the road! (or even Earthquakes).

Woooo Hoo, while writing this I just received an email form Scott with pictures of………

A false Pilot Whale! Are you kidding me – this was taken in our waters. I was going to mention it at some point because it illustrates a few things. First, even seasoned divers can learn new things – I had no idea they existed till Greg and Scott told me last night! You think I was excited before!

The second is exactly what I was saying with regards to language. Here is the VERY loose translation (done by the internet translator) of the post that was made in Japanese.

"Water temperature: 30 degree wave: Without the れ: The right -> to the left degree of halfway wind: Nisikita west 6.9 mile winds wave: It is not transparency: 30m Comment: Today at 4 beaches morning of John, ラウラウビーチ, グロット × 2 dived from afternoon! And "ジンベイザメ" of desire came out with グロット! Since I myself seeing in the past Guam, with 4 year 2 month inclination, of course in Saipan it was first! ! ! As for the length 5m rank, it meaning that girth is large, female kana? ! While and so on with thinking, you try approach as for the flow even cruelly アゲインスト! Even then persevering, swimming, the somehow several taking the photograph the earnest! It was rendezvous approximately 1 minutes. Oh with while saying, still it seems like dream in the occurrence, but there are no either complications and that form which in actuality quietly swims before the eye was ジンベイザメ. Today was highest 1 day truly."

Now imagine what would happen if that information were easily accessible to everyone, in every language (sorry google you just don’t beat human contact here)? A story like this, the whale shark and mating nudibranchs on top of everything else we have to offer gives us no excuses for not putting this place on the diving map!

I’ve got to stop, too many thoughts not enough time and who really wants to read all this when you could be diving! More soon!


Harry Blalock said...

Awesome post Mike, and I loved the pictures of the Whale Shark. I guess I need to spend more time looking into the blue instead of at the bottom all the time.

I think last night was the beginning of great things too, now we just have to keep the momentum going. I know you and I aren't about to let this drop, so let's just keep pushing. I think we have a few more dive nuts just as passionate about it as we are.

Marianas Eye said...

Congrats on a great start, Mike! Keep it going. We have a lot to offer on many fronts. I occasionally visit some of Japan's popular expat blogs and post a comment about our islands. We just need to get the word out.