AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Enough of Richard Clarke and politics for a while.
Some people were surprised that I ran an ad for the Shifting Baselines project of the Oceans Conservancy a while back. But it's actually something I care about, as the picture above may demonstrate. The main point of diving is to observe and enjoy the aquatic life. And one reason I like to dive in Cayman is that they've done an excellent job of preserving things -- though the surfeit of cruise ships there is causing even the local merchants to wonder if they're facing too much of a good thing.
And even there, people argue about how the reef is doing. I've heard people say that it's much better than it was decades ago when it was regularly fished with purse seines, and I've heard other say it's not as good. (And there are still calls for more protection) It's hard to say who's right, and it depends on exactly which parts of the reef you're talking about, too. That's what the whole "baselines" idea is about.
Anyway, as a break from the usual stuff, I've put up a short selection of dive videos, showing what a pretty damn good reef looks like. You can see 'em in high-bandwidth WMV, in low-bandwidth WMV, or in high-bandwidth QuickTime. The fellow on the right (er, I think he's the fellow) is part of a mating pair of pufferfish we observed, which is pretty rare. You can also see sharks, spiny lobsters, crabs, etc. (I make a cameo appearance or two as well, as does Doug Weinstein).
Divers have been pretty good about trying to preserve and improve the marine environment, through things like PADI's Project A.W.A.R.E. And I suspect that if more people dove, more people would care about these issues. It is seven-tenths of the planet, after all.
UPDATE: Technical and other questions answered: Shot on mini-DV using a DCR-PC330 camera and an Amphibco housing (I think, it was a renter). Edited using Vegas Video 4 (which still rocks).