The United States is home to extraordinary dive experiences. From reefs to caves, there are rich underwater adventures to be had all across America.

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In 2010, I saw the Gulf of Mexico burning from part of the effort to contain the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This emotional moment compelled me to consider how I could help. 

I was flying back from Tobago in a commercial jet at 30,000 feet. As an underwater photographer, I felt the urge to grab my camera while I passed by this monumental event. Instead of taking the photo, I took in the sight below. Taking that photo would not communicate the impact of the disaster. Even though the skies were clear, the scene below seemed small from my vantage point. I knew what I saw was huge because I knew the scale of the oil tankers that were trying to contain the spill.

I returned from my trip and told my colleagues at a design conference what I observed. They could not understand the scale or the effect on life underwater. Most of the oil sank in the Gulf of Mexico. When objects sink, they seem to disappear from existence for people. Wrecks vanish. Trash collects. The oil moves along the bottom. Divers understand and know otherwise because we see the underwater realm.

This spill affected people and wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, crabs, shrimp, and plankton. Compelled to reveal these hidden depths, I set out on a journey to document our local waters. I share Jean-Michel Cousteau's belief that we protect what we love. I hope to help others love our local waters by showing how our national underwater world is a treasure that needs our protection. See just a few of the images from my book, An American Immersion, in this slideshow.


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