When my producers and I decided to do a SCUBA segment for Big Boys' Toys, I was beyond ecstatic. The kind of ecstatic like a kid getting ready to go to Disney World for the first time. . . it keeps you up at night because you can't stop thinking about how much fun you are about to have!
I had never tried it before, mostly because, in all honesty, I prefer to be "on top" of the ocean! That's why I've always stuck to snorkeling and skin diving where I feel I'm in total control of my breathing. I've been snorkeling since I was a teen and have seen my share of pretty awesome sights!
In Ambergris Caye, Belize, we hired a guy named Ramon to take us in his boat to some of the best snorkel sites, including a visit to "Shark/Ray Alley." Yes, just as it sounds. This is a spot where local fisherman dump their chum on the way back to the island, so naturally there is a lot of underwater activity. It was absolutely unreal swimming with a sea of nurse sharks and rays as big as me! Ramon also took us out again at night to see things from a different perspective. Just like on land, boy do the freaks come out at night! Armed with an underwater flashlight, I saw moray eels, porcupine fish and even made friends with an enormous Goliath Grouper that followed me around the entire swim!
In Tulum, Mexico, the water of the Gulf was as crystal clear as I have ever seen it. They also have "cenotes" which are sinkholes, of sorts. They formed over thousands of years from the cave systems which are so abundant in Mexico. You can dive or snorkel them and check out all of the crazy underwater rock formations. Unreal!
Finally, I have to mention the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, where the addiction began! It all started when a tiny seahorse floated right into my palm. It was one of those life changing moments when you realize how small -you- really are.
So, a great big thank you to Bill Jackson's Adventure Store and Rocky, my instructor, for teaching me a new way to "sea" life! I know it's cheesy, but I couldn't resist! It took me a little while to get comfortable breathing through the tank, but with a little practice, it becomes second nature. Next vacation, you bet I'm putting SCUBA diving on the menu!
Enjoy the show!
Airing now on Tampa Bay On Demand, Channel 340
Am I having fun, or what?
Shooting underwater footage
5 hour shoot is over!