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AD 2015 Q4

This is the “not do” component. It is also somewhat harder to define. After all, who determines the duty to care and the non-compliance thereto in unique emergency situations? Still, this component is more likely to lead to a recovery of damages. Put differently, when you are under a legal duty to take reasonable care and you do not do it, then you could be held liable for damages that are directly caused by the breach of that duty. The key elements are “reasonable care” and “directly caused”. Let’s break that down, starting with directly caused. This means that the damages are linked directly to the failure to perform the reasonable duty. This is called a causal connection. In other words, there must be a connection between the duty not complied with and the damages. deep diving are so hazardous that it may well be better to only jeopardise the life of one individual rather than two. That is, of course, as long as no one is put at risk during the subsequent body recovery or rescue efforts! Well, as a qualified instructor and dive leader, I shall continue to teach and advocate the buddy system. I do not like the idea of diving alone anyway. I prefer to share the joys of diving with someone able to share the memories of the dive. To me, diving is, and remains, a team sport. Which introduces another consideration: How would the principle of duty to take care be applied to children who dive? Training agencies impose age and depth restrictions on children who enter the sport before the age of 14. Depending on the age and diving course, a child may be required to dive with an instructor or at least another adult dive buddy. If the adult were to get into trouble, the child would not be expected to meet the duty of care of another adult. He/she would be held to an age appropriate standard. What about all those waivers? As mentioned in the previous article, waivers define the boundaries of the self-imposed risk divers are willing to take by requiring that they acknowledge them. Waivers do not remove all the potential claims for negligence and non-compliance with a duty of care. As such, it is left to our courts to ultimately interpret the content of a waiver within the actual context of damage or injury.


IMAGING SHOOTER The Mediterranean Sea is known for its spectacularly clear water, particularly in the south of France. But this clarity is not found off Montpellier, where Ballesta grew up. A far cry from the French Riviera, Montpellier’s coastline is characterized by muddy green water, rough seas and poor visibility. The snorkeling and diving are arduous, and the environment does not readily reveal charismatic sea creatures. In fact, the visibility is often so poor you can see your watch or dive computer and little more. But such an environment will teach someone who cares to look for marine life how to detect it. Studying this almost imperceptible marine life was Ballesta’s childhood passion and likely the first steps along his path of an illustrious career as a marine scientist and an underwater photographer of the highest caliber. Like many underwater photographers, Ballesta was first inspired by the exploits of Capt. Jacques Cousteau. But as a child watching the documentaries on French television, he didn’t want to be a filmmaker like Cousteau or the skipper of the Calypso. In his fantasies he was the marine biologist on board — the man who would find the rare and unusual creatures and point them out to Cousteau. Cousteau died when Ballesta was a teenager, which was a great disappointment to the young man. He would have to find another path that related to the sea. His first passion for the ocean world was to observe it; his second was talking about what he saw. He would bore friends and family with constant stories about the weird and wonderful creatures he discovered in Montpellier’s turbid waters. Eventually one of these offshore encounters drove him to try underwater photography. While looking for a deep wreck to dive, Ballesta and his buddy saw the giant dorsal fins of a school of basking sharks swimming nearby. The water was cold, dark and dirty, but he swam with the baskers. He didn’t have words in his vocabulary to describe what he had seen when he went home to his parents, and in their eyes he could see skepticism. Right then he knew he needed an underwater camera, and his dad agreed to buy him a Formaplex Aquamatic. The camera used 126 film (28 mm square), and flashbulbs provided the only artificial light. But as crude as the system was, he could take pictures underwater. A few years later he convinced his dad to buy him his first modern camera, a Nikonos V with an SB-105 flash. Once Ballesta finished his education and had an assignment for a science expedition in French Polynesia, he went to the bank to get a loan for a Nikonos RS. Finding the versatility of a housed single-lens reflex (SLR) camera better suited to his needs, he bought a Nikon F100 and a Seacam underwater housing, and he has stayed with those two brands ever since. Today his favorite camera is a Nikon D4S because of its ISO sensitivity and ability to perform well in low-light situations (he sometimes uses ISO settings as high as 30,000 for low ambient light). He uses a housing with a special deepwater dome port to withstand the crushing pressures of the deep depths to which he dives. After earning his master’s degree in marine ecology at the University of Montpellier, Ballesta and three partners founded Andromede Oceanologie, a firm specializing in underwater mapping of the seafloor, studies of pollution and surveys of harbors and other coastal areas. Andromede Oceanologie also conducts pure research, particularly in deep Mediterranean ecosystems. To this end Ballesta and his partner, Pierre Decamp, have developed competency for rebreather diving in depths to 600 feet. But this is not deep diving for its own sake; it’s expedition diving for the purpose of solving scientific mysteries, producing media content such as photo galleries or books, and enhancing human knowledge about dive technology and physiology. STEPHEN FRINK// I think I first became aware of your work through a very unusual series of images of a mantis shrimp catching a fish (see photos on Page 99). This was in 1999, so it almost had to have been made with film. I thought these photos were cutting edge at the time, and they’re still quite innovative. How did you get the shots? LAURENT BALLESTA// As a marine biologist I knew that the mantis shrimp has a punch of amazing speed — some say like the speed of a bullet. I understood that to capture that speed would be quite a challenge. I was at Loloata Resort near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and the guides there knew of a large and relatively accessible mantis shrimp at a nearby reef. So the elements were right to try for the shot, but I still needed it to catch a fish and then capture that on film. I spent two days hoping to get the shot by luck — well, maybe a little more than luck for I confess I tried to coax a few fish into striking range of the mantis shrimp. But I think the reef fish knew very well where this mantis shrimp lived and wouldn’t go near its tunnel on the seafloor. Finally I set up my housed Nikon F100 on a tripod with a cable release and aimed the strobes toward where the shrimp would exit its hole. I set the motor drive to the highest speed and the strobes to the lowest power so they could recycle almost immediately for a burst of 10 or 12 frames. I did a test to find the right aperture, again for the distance at which the mantis shrimp would be when attacking prey in ambush. Then I swam away and left it all in place overnight. This led 98 | FALL 2015

the fish to accept the new object in their habitat. I also think it might have disrupted their normal patterns, because when I went down to the reef on the third day a small sharpnose puffer swam too near the mantis shrimp. When it got close I pressed the cable release in anticipation of possible predation, and I captured a burst of shots, though I didn’t see anything. I noticed the fish was gone, but neither my dive buddy nor I knew what happened to it. It wasn’t until I had the film processed that I realized I had gotten the shot. That has been my approach to underwater photography from the very beginning. I try to imagine an impossible photo and find a way to capture it. Mostly it doesn’t work, but sometimes it does, and I will have a photo, recorded in what I hope is an artistic way, that science hasn’t seen before. SF// Tell me more about your work with coelacanth. If the mantis was your most unusual image early on, your expedition to photograph these living fossils has excited a lot of contemporary interest in your work. LB// As a student of marine biology it was impossible to not have heard about the coelacanth. They were known from fossil records but thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago in the great extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs. A museum curator aboard a South African fishing trawler discovered the first living coelacanth in 1938. They are large fish, up to 6.5 feet long, and very distinctive looking with a pair of lobed fins that extend from the body. They live very deep, some as deep as 2,300 feet below the surface. By the time I was studying them in school there were specimens of them in museums, and fishermen sometimes caught them. They had been seen via remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and submarines, but no one had ever photographed one in the wild. In 2000 I heard that a diver named Peter Timm had actually seen a coelacanth in South Africa off Sodwana Bay on a deep dive to 400 feet. After he told what he had seen, two other divers tried the same dive with cameras, and they both died. In my experience there is a huge difference between a touch-and-go dive and a working dive at these kinds of depths. Anyone can take a mixed-gas course and learn how to reach a target depth and safely return to the surface. It is a different matter to do so in a 13-foot swell and a 2-knot current and then perform a task when you get to the bottom. This is dangerous for anyone without the necessary skills, and when I first heard there was a place where people knew there was a coelacanth, I did not have the skills to get the shot. “I NOTICED THE FISH WAS GONE, BUT NEITHER MY DIVE BUDDY NOR I KNEW WHAT HAPPENED TO IT. IT WASN’T UNTIL I HAD THE FILM PROCESSED THAT I REALIZED I HAD GOTTEN THE SHOT.” ALERTDIVER.COM | 99

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