Top of the kelp forest

I dive, therefore I am

Diving and underwater photography is one of my passions, a sport and hobby that give me a great deal of pleasure. It helps keep me grounded and reminds me what's real. It's a good excuse to get outside and have adventures, whether on some far flung tropical island or on a camping trip closer to home. You never know what manner of weird and exotic marine life you might come across underwater.

We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a wonderfully magical place filled with light and interesting people. We have a close connection to the water since our house overlooks the bay, we can see the Golden Gate from our porch, and I cycle two or three times a week on the Bay Trail. Some of the worlds best dive sites are only a short drive away, which is fortunate since San Francisco Bay is not really a popular dive destination.

Most of my diving is done in Monterey, either inside the bay at sites like:

  • Coastguard Pier, the bunny slope of diving
  • MacAbee Beach, right next to El Torrito, an excellent post dive spot for a quick bite or an adult beverage
  • Lovers Point, named for lovers of Jesus
or outside the bay, at sites like:
  • Monastery Beach, nicknamed Mortuary Beach for the fierce undertow
  • Point Lobos, a State Park and my favourite dive site
or up the North Coast at sites like:
  • Russian Gulch or Van Damme State Park in Mendocino County
  • Gerstle Cove in Sonoma County

I've been a divemaster since 1992, and that opened up a world of adventure. I helped teach 5 or 6 Open Water classes a year for about a decade. I also help out with a Marine Ecology class that a friend teaches at City College of San Francisco, something I've been doing for about 15 years. It's a one semester evening class, part lecture and part diving. The diving is a weekend in Mendocino County, a weekend in Sonoma County, a weekend in Monterey and a day at Point Lobos State Park. For the diving I act as a safety diver and do some diving of my own, but some would say my biggest contribution is the hot Miso soup I usually bring along - especially from those diving wet!! During the lecture portion of the class I take over one evening to share my knowledge of the Marine Ecology of Monterey Bay and the North Coast, but really it's my opportunity to give a slide show and share my observations with a captive audience.

I've started a Marine Ecology page, which can be found here. It contains the slides from my last lecture at City College of San Francisco.

I've almost always taken photographs - one of my first cameras was a Box Brownie - yes indeed - but I'm not from that vintage - I got it from a Boy Scout jumble sale (rummage sale). When I learned to dive, it was quite natural for me to gravitate towards underwater photography. Within two months of learning to dive, I'd taken an underwater photography class (thank you Jeff) and was on my way. The sidebar on the left has links to some of my photos, my most recent dive trips plus some highlights from the past. The photos are stored in FlickR and they'll open in a separate window or tab. As you've probably noticed, this page has also got a few photos lying around.

I've also started a Photo Showcase page, which can be found here. As of April 21st, 2010, it has 630 images that you can browse through. It allows you to see some of my best images organized by year, as well as view images for a particular critter. Check it out. Even I was quite impressed and I built it.

Metridium Fields, Monterey Pinnacles, Carmel Pinnacles, Carmel Outer Lover's Point, Monterey Hopkins Deep Reef, Monterey Ocean Cove, Sonoma County South Monastery, Carmel Point Lobos, Carmel

All photographs © Neil Robertson, all right reserved.