From a very young age on I was very interested in the under water world. Big influences for my attraction were Hans Hass, a scuba diving pioneer from Austria and Jacques Yves Cousteau.

My grandfather owned a book by Hans Hass called “Among corrals and sharks” what was one of the first books with under water photographs ever. I loved the images. When I was growing up in Germany we had three television stations and almost no commercial breaks. One show that I frequently watched were documentaries by Jacques Yves Cousteau about exploring the under water world. I was mesmerized. He even created a small underwater city. I made a decision; I would be the Jacques Cousteau of the future.

Well, my life did not go that direction. But that wasn’t holding me back from becoming a licensed diver at age 16. I still remember how excited I was back then on my first dive. An amazing trip followed when I was 19. I flew to Sipadan Island in the Northeast of Borneo. It is a small island. To walk around it on the beach takes less then 30 minuets. I was the youngest longest guest on the island spending 10 days there and was doing up to four dives per day. I had a fantastic time. I could have even had an island girlfriend if I would not have been so repressed at that time in my life and would not have rejected her. What a waste! J Well, too late now.

Sipadan is famous for its  “turtle tomb” and because of that was visited by Jacques Cousteau. It is an underwater tomb you have to enter through a very narrow tunnel. What happens is that turtles get lost in the tomb, can’t find the way up to the surface to breathe and die. When you enter the tomb you can find about 20 turtle skeletons on the ground. Cave diving is very exciting. There is always some anxiety when you jump in the water. But diving in total darkness and knowing that going up will not bring you to the surface but only make you hurt your head makes things definitely more interesting.

Sipadan has a drop off reef that falls to 2000 feet. The great thing is that wall diving is possible. You can jump into the water and have great diving conditions at any depth. I still remember this day I did a night dive. Night diving is always exciting because all you see is where you point your torchlight. There is always this mystery about what is happening around you, especially when sharks are in the water. That night I was diving with my diving along the wall with my dive instructor. In the far distance we could see another group of divers lighting up the darkness around us. It looked like a scene out of the movie “The Abyss”. About 15 minuets later I suddenly felt somebody tapping on my shoulder. It was one of the divers of the other group. When I turned around he started to shake my hand. It was this strange scene in the midst of the Celebes Sea. Two guys in the middle of the night in diving gear being happy to have run into another human being. I still wonder that the guy was.

There is a lot of freedom in diving. You free yourself from the weight of the body and leave the world, as you know it behind you. This is why I was so attracted to it. For an hour I was able to leave it all behind me. For an hour I was able to let go of my suffering.





“Underwater” Aquarium of the Bay of California/San Francisco 05-10-08 at 03:20 PM

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