Scott Johnson has felt drawn to the sea and its creatures from a
very young age. As a child, he made frequent trips to visit an Aunt
who lived in Miami Beach, FL. Sitting spellbound for hours he would
simply listen to the waves roll in and wonder what lied beneath
the water's surface.
curiosity eventually led to his first ocean dive. Johnson carried
with him an underwater camera, although he had no previous interest
in photography. But from that first dive a strong desire to capture
the essence of his underwater experiences quickly developed. Working
as a freelance photographer and writer, he has traveled extensively
in the Caribbean as well as explored the South Pacific and Middle
East. And he counts Cocos Island, Costa Rica among his favorite
images have been recognized in international competitions and appeared
in numerous publications, including major diving magazines, as well
as in calendars and advertisements.
Today I am going
"au natural" and will explore the Mary Celestia, a historic
wreck from 1864. I will be joining Michael Burke, owner of Blue
Water Divers, for this chance to visit a relic from the Civil War.
Blue Water is
located in Somerset, about five miles from the Southampton Princess.
Michael has been diving in these waters since he was old enough
to walk. Following in the footsteps of his father, he has made diving
and marine conservation his life's work. His passion is impossible
to conceal. As he answers my many questions regarding the Mary Celestia,
it's as if he is trying to reanimate her broken remains.
this 225-foot paddlewheel steamer finally plowed into the South
Shore reef, she was covertly operated behind a variety of names.
The frequent name changes were an attempt to conceal her dangerous
missions of smuggling guns, ammunition, food and other supplies
from England to the Confederacy. Though Bermuda was allied with
the south during the Civil War, someone forgot to tell the reef.
Ol' Dixie lost a loyal supporter when the ship went down.
in only 55 feet of water, I see one paddlewheel standing erect as
I descend toward her broken structure. I am presented with a fantastic
photographic opportunity as the sun's rays shine around and through
the paddlewheel spokes. My biggest challenge is the reduced visibility.
During the winter
and spring months, the water can be chilly as temperatures fall
to the mid 60's. However, the cold water offers outstanding visibility.
In fact, the visibility usually exceeds 200 feet on most sites.
While summer elevates the water temperature by 20 degrees, it also
prompts algae blooms and other factors that reduce visibility. I
estimate today's viz. to be about 60 feet.
Fairmont Southampton Princess
P.O. Box HM 1379
Bermuda HM FX
P.O. Box SN 165
Southampton SN BX
#5 Albuoy's Point
Hamilton HM 11
Beach Resort Bermuda
P.O. Box HM 1070
Hamilton HM EX