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Alert Diver is the dive industry’s leading publication. Featuring DAN’s core content of dive safety, research, education and medical information, each issue is a must-read reference, archived and shared by passionate scuba enthusiasts. In addition, Alert Diver showcases fascinating dive destinations and marine environmental topics through images from the world’s greatest underwater photographers and stories from the most experienced and eloquent dive journalists in the business.

IMAGING SHOOTER S H O O

IMAGING SHOOTER S H O O T E R THE ENDLESS SUMMER OF DOUGLAS SEIFERT PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS SEIFERT; INTRODUCTION BY STEPHEN FRINK Maybe there was something in the water. Douglas David Seifert learned to swim at what is now one of the most revered macrophotography destinations in the United States: the Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Fla. In the early 1960s Palm Beach County was an absolute paradise; there were very few dive shops and hardly any tourists who were interested in viewing the near-shore underwater world through a facemask. But Seifert’s childhood obsession was doing just that while growing up on Singer Island, Fla. He went deep-sea fishing with his father every weekend and had aquariums at home for which he collected invertebrates and tropical fish. He became a keen observer of fish behavior at an early age. Although Seifert failed the classroom portion of his first scuba class at age 12 — the math involved in the dive tables was too much for him at the time — later in life he overcompensated and became a scuba instructor, actually teaching the math that had once confounded him. His immersion in the dive industry brought him in contact with one of the early icons of marine conservation in South Florida, Norine Rouse. “Take only pictures, kill only time, leave only bubbles” was her mantra, and Seifert was her protégé. He had Douglas Seifert photographs a silky shark in Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina. great admiration for her, whom he called “this funky, crazy, fearless 60-something-year-old woman running a dive shop.” He recalled that she was not a fan of shark baiting, but at that time there might be 20-30 bull or lemon sharks on a dive even without using bait. This was also a time when any given day diving Palm Beach County would reveal 12–24 turtles, mostly loggerheads. Rouse would dive with a buffing pad, and the turtles would recognize her at a distance and swim right up to her to have their shells cleaned. She had a true rapport with marine life. Her passion for the welfare of marine life was infectious, and helped shape Seifert’s lifelong commitment to conservation issues. Wanderlust and an ambition to sell TV and movie scripts in Hollywood drove Seifert west. Soon disenchanted with the entertainment industry, he sold everything he owned to buy an around-the-Pacific ticket, back when such things existed. That meant he could go somewhere such as Australia, spend a few weeks (or months) and then hop on another jet to Fiji or wherever. His parents gave him a Nikonos camera system as a going-away gift, though he knew very little about how to use it. While in Sydney, he wandered into the Dive 2000 store and met underwater photographer Kevin Deacon, who fortuitously offered lessons to the uninitiated. “In the film days, learning underwater photography without instruction was a very slow and unforgiving process,” Seifert recalled. “Kevin accelerated my learning curve, as did STEPHEN FRINK a book I read almost daily for four months: Howard Hall’s Guide to Successful Underwater Photography. Howard and I have since become good friends, but I doubt he’ll ever know how meaningful that book was to me at that time in my life.” Deacon’s instruction proved invaluable when Seifert dived with great white sharks at Dangerous Reef, South Australia, guided by the incomparable Rodney Fox. At the time, fewer than 100 people in the world had ever dived with great white sharks. Some time later, back in Florida, Seifert met Doug Perrine (see Shooter, Fall 2013) and went with him on a trip to the Azores. Armed with a Nikonos RS and a 20-35mm lens, Seifert managed to get some underwater photos of sperm whales at a time when very few such images existed. He showed them to the publishers of Ocean Realm, who happily agreed to publish them along with an article about his 92 | FALL 2016

(PREVIOUS SPREAD) THE MAN IN THE GRAY OVERCOAT “I have been fascinated with great white sharks since I saw the movie Blue Water, White Death in the theater as a child, circa 1971. I traveled to South Australia with my first underwater camera to experience these magnificent animals for myself with the consummate shark guide, host and victim: Rodney Fox. I have been diving irregularly but often with great white sharks in South Australia, South Africa and at Guadalupe Island, Mexico, ever since. Only South Australia offers the opportunity to take a cage to the bottom and see the sharks meander through rocky canyons and around the periphery of kelp and seagrass plains. I was struck by how graceful and serene they were when not being teased with baits suspended from floats at the surface. I was mostly outside of the cage when I made this image. The shark was really a lot closer than it appeared in the viewfinder. I tried not to think about that because the scene was just so electrifying and beautiful.” (ABOVE) NIGHT MANTAS “The manta ray night dive off Kona, Hawaii, is one of the greatest spectacles of the underwater world. It’s accessible to snorkelers and divers of all skill levels, almost every night of the year. The theatricality of the dive is astonishing to witness; it’s a light show with swirling, feeding manta rays, a Cirque du Soleil of the sea. Afterward, when the divers have left, does the show still go on? My team and I spent a few nights with a boat, a generator, and a movie light intending to find out. Of course, where there is food, there are diners. The movie lights provided attraction to lure the copepods to the surface, where the fish gorged themselves, and the mantas did barrel rolls as they fed upon the abundant food. This is a color image made virtually black and white by circumstances, not by processing.” ALERTDIVER.COM | 93