Scuba Diving

Episode 100: John Kowitz

John Kowitz -- underwater photography, world travel, ocean conservation

John Kowitz left the cold, fresh waters of Michigan to find his calling in warm, tropical waters around the world. As an underwater photographer John has captured stunning shots of people, animals, and scenes in places like Hawaii, Bahamas, Costa Rica, and more. While developing his strength as a free diver, John has developed a deep respect for ocean conservation and along with stories of swimming with hammerheads, mantas, and pilot whales, shares his perspective on protecting our oceans and the animals we all love. If you can, take a look at John’s photography on Instagram @j.kowitz while you listen to his stories — his work is epic.
 
If you hate using the plastic bags at grocery stores for your produce, hit Google for ‘washable produce bags’ and pick up a set of the reusables. It makes a ton of sense.
 
Thanks for sharing John’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check him out on Instagram and dive into his photography website
 
Additional parts of our conversation:

 

  • Splitting time between career as a travel nurse and photography
  • Grew up in Michigan
  • Evolution of photography and camera gear
  • Guiding spearfishing trips on Maui with Maui Spearfishing Academy and Bobby Twitchell (past guest)
  • Guiding whale and shark freediving tours on the Kona coast
  • Animals — pilot whales, ocean white tips, hammerhead sharks, mantas
  • intricacies of diving and photographing hammerhaed and pilot whales
  • Cocos Island trip with SharkWatch
  • Observing Hammerhead Shark cleaning station where small reef fish pick parasites off of the sharks
  • Working and training with world-class athletes and special forces at XPT with Laird Hamilton
This Ocean Life Podcast John Kowitz

Episode 98: Greg Lewandowski

Greg Lewandowski -- boat captain, scuba instructor, freediver, fisherman, photographer

Born in Poland and raised in the cold ocean waters of Maine, Greg Lewandowski began scuba diving at age 9, running boats, and developing a strong love for being in the ocean at a young age. Today he takes us through his stories of living and working across the Caribbean, running scuba diving charters, fishing, and freediving on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, his artistic approach to photography, and memorable moments with whales, sharks, manta rays, monk seals, and much more. You can find Greg on Instagram by his handle @seafeverh2o. And we can all cut way down on our plastic usage to help protect the environment and some of our favorite ocean animals we hear about today.

More highlights of our conversation:

  • First experienced tropical water at age 15 in Honduras setting him on a path of travel throughout the Caribbean serving as scuba divemaster and instructor before landing on the south shore of Kauai where Greg lives today.
  • Shares perspective on the spirit of Kauai and the ability for the island to either accept or reject people who move there.
  • Greg talks about running scuba tours for Fathom Five Divers, the amazing diving in the water around Niihau and the animals found there.
  • Most memorable experience underwater floating eye-to-eye with a juvenile hump back whale in the Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Spending time in the water with Hawaiian Monk Seal, local sharks, mantas, spinner dolphins
  • Operating tour boats in the unpredictable waters of Kauai
  • Fishing for the pelagic game fish in the Hawaiian waters — tunas, ono
  • Artistry that goes into making lures from scratch
  • Photography, favorite photo of a model on the beach just before a wave breaks around her
  • Evolution of freediving as another way to interact in the ocean
  • The abstract nature of bodybuilding relative to diving and being in the ocean (hint, wetsuits don’t fit so well but you need less weight to dive 🙂

Thanks for sharing Greg’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check him out on Instagram .

This Ocean Life Podcast Greg Lewandowski

Episode 96: Hayley-Jo Carr

Hayley-Jo Carr -- scuba diving, coral restoration, Bahamas

In episode 96 I spend time with Hayley-Jo Carr, a woman dedicated to marine conservation in the Bahamas. Hayley-Jo takes us through her youth on the coast of England to finding her passion for scuba diving and undersea life on vacation in the Whitsunday Islands of Australia.

We hear of Hayley-Jo’s pursuit of her passion for diving and marine conservation over the years leading to the Bahamas where today she focuses on coral restoration. Hayley-Jo talks about her role as PADI Course Director, training the local dive shops to teach their scuba students how to contribute to coral restoration, and her role as coordinator of the Reef Rescue Network, working with NGOs and planning dive operations to expand the network of coral reef nurseries.

Hayley-Jo provides great perspective on these coral nurseries, the importance of volunteer science and restoration efforts to support them, the health of the Bahamas shark populations, her love of underwater fashion modeling, impacts of the recent Hurricane Dorian, and more. 

 

Thanks for sharing Hayley-Jo’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check her out on Instagram and dive into the Reef Rescue Network.

This Ocean Life Podcast Hayley-Jo Carr

Episode 81: Patrick Webster

Patrick Webster -- underwater photography, conservation through story telling

In episode 81 we speak with Patrick Webster, an incredible underwater photographer with an artistic flair for capturing ocean scenes within the Monterey Bay and beyond. Patrick takes us through his transition from underwater video to photography and the community of local photographers he has around him in the Monterey area. We hear how Patrick’s background with the UC Santa Cruz Marine Science program has influenced his photography and his focus on telling stories of the scenes and animals he photographs to inspire others. Patrick shares his perspective on developing social media content for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a world leader in ocean education and conservation, and the importance of relating the ocean world to the everyday lives of people to help them understand and connect. We also hear about the amazing success story of Cabo Pulmo, a marine protected area near Cabo San Lucas, where Patrick has spent time photographing the amazing ocean life there.

Thanks for sharing Patrick’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Patrick on Instagram.

This Ocean Life Patrick Webster

Episode 77: Mellisa Altenburger

Mellisa Altenburger - living afloat in Bahamas, free diving, scuba, ocean protection

In episode 77 we hear stories from Mellisa Altenburger, a woman of the water who has spent the last 6 years in the Bahamas. Mel takes us through her journey from South Africa to the Bahamas where she crews on a 100-ft cruising yacht and found her passion for being underwater. We hear of Mel’s evolution with scuba and free diving, the wealth of wrecks and animals she regularly experiences in the Bahamas, and her amazing (and heart wrenching) story of working to save a green turtle who swallowed a fishing hook. Mel takes us through her strong passion for ocean conservation with trash cleanups, her work to capture the beauty of the Bahamian waters through underwater photography, and gives a great perspective on her love for the ocean — something we can all identify with.

Thanks for sharing Mel’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out her amazing photos and videos on Instagram. Photo credit: Pia Oyarzun.

This Ocean Life Podcast Mellisa Altenburger

Episode 74: Ryan Levinson – Pt 2

Ryan Levinson Part 2 - muscular dystrophy at sea, living afloat in French Polynesia, rediscovering the bodyboard

In Episode 74 we check back in Ryan Levinson, a hard charging man of the water living with Muscular Dystrophy in the waters of French Polynesia. Ryan recaps the past 6 months living on a sail catamaran in Tahitian waters with wife Nicole. We hear of them making the move to their new catamaran after being passed by that boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean en route from Mexico and the learning curve to life on a new, larger boat. Ryan shares the day to day routine of life in the Tahitian Islands, scuba diving, kite boarding, sailing, and the relationships they’ve made with other cruisers. Ryan shares perspective on riding waves with the bodyboard in the heavy Tahitian surf as his continued loss of muscle makes it more and more challenging to ride waves. We hear about a perfect paradise island that he and Nicole have found with incredible surf and amazing local people (which Ryan is keeping secret — I’m going to get it out of him :)).

Thanks for sharing Ryan’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of Ryan and Nicole on their Facebook page, Instagram page and epic YouTube Channel, Two Afloat.

Please also check out the adaptive sports organizations that Ryan works with:

https://www.challengedathletes.org

https://stokeforlife.org/

This Ocean Life Podcast Ryan Levinson

Episode 72: Josh Smith

Josh Smith - marine biology, kelp forest changes, scuba diving

In episode 72 we speak with Josh Smith, a marine biologist spending his time underwater in the kelp forests of California. Josh takes us through his research to understand the changes in kelp forests with a relatively recent explosion in sea urchin populations and the interactions of other animals like otters, abalone, and sea stars are involved. We hear about the day to day operations of doing research in the cold waters of Monterey Bay, the physical demands of daily scuba diving, and talk about how the loss of kelp forests and other changes to the ocean environment may be part of larger cycles that we humans just haven’t been around long enough to understand yet. Josh also shares some neat perspective on the importance of mentors, both in the water and on land, to help us pursue our calling. If you want more on marine biology in California waters, see a related episode with Steve Lonhart.

Thanks for sharing Josh’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of him on InstagramFacebook and website.

This Ocean Life Podcast Josh SMith

Episode 61: George Peterson

George Peterson - scuba diver, educator, Monterey Bay Aquarium

In Episode 61 we speak with George Peterson, a man of the water who has spent almost 2 decades years educating the world about our oceans through scuba diving. George takes us through his youth in Iowa, finding scuba diving in Colorado, and ultimately moving to the island of Utila, Honduras. We hear the story of George and friends building the first eco-friendly dive resort on Utila, stories of whale shark pods, and George finding his true passion for education and conservation of the oceans which he pursued back to California where he joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium. George talks about the amazing work the aquarium does for our oceans, young people, and the disabled through the Underwater Explorers program and Day of Discovery, talks about their white shark program, and shares his recent trip to Oman where he witnessed some of the most pristine and amazing underwater life he has ever seen.

Thanks for sharing George’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of George on his Instagram page and Facebook. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium youth dive program as well.

This Ocean Life Podcast George Peterson

Episode 57: Max Montgomery

Max Montgomery - Surfer, SUP, volunteer for others, heart attack survivor

In Episode 57 we speak with Max Montgomery, a surfer, diver, board paddler and man dedicated to helping others through ocean events. Max shares his stories of volunteering time for Ride A Wave and others that focus on getting persons with disabilities into the ocean. We hear of multiple events that Max has started himself including Paddle4Good and BestDay Foundation which continue to thrive around the USA. Max recounts an incredible story of a heart attack on the beach then surviving after 15+ minutes of no pulse with 6 defibrillator shocks and incredible hands-on effort from his wife-to-be and others on the beach. It’s an epic story… Max continues today to put full effort into helping others and shares his current project with the first-ever SUP film festival due in March 2019.

Thanks for sharing Max’s ocean life with us. If you’ve been thinking about volunteering to help less fortunate children and adults enjoy the ocean, Max will give you the inspiration to get out and do it. You can find pictures and video of Max on Facebook, SUP Film Fest website, Paddle4Good, and BestDay Foundation websites.

Episode 55: Ted Harty

Ted Harty - Freediving instructor, record holder, Immersion Freediving program

In Episode 55 we speak with Ted Harty, a man dedicated to helping freedivers around the world stay safe and and enjoy this great sport.Ted takes us through leaving his 9-5 corporate job for a life of scuba diving in the Florida Keys and ultimately finding his passion for freediving. We hear of Ted’s pursuit to improve his freediving skills, training with some of the best in the world, and becoming a highly successful competitive freediver where he set a US National record for dynamic apnea. Along the way Ted became the US National Freediving Coach and found another passion for helping others to be safe in the water. Ted takes us through his approach to developing his Immersion Freediving training program that provides both in-water and online components intended to educate divers anywhere on how to dive safe. Ted also shares the recent launch of www.FreeDivingSafety.com, an amazing online resource of information for all freedivers.

Thanks for sharing Ted’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of him on Instagram and Facebook pages. View all of Ted’s online freediving classes www.onlineclasses.ImmersionFreediving.com — enter coupon code OCEANLIFE to receive 20% off all online courses!!