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Patrick Krejcik: Diving with Sharks

(Photo - Krejcik)Patrick Krejcik, a native of Sydney, grew up swimming and surfing along Australia's coasts. Last year, he returned to his oceanic roots when he traveled to Thailand to learn to scuba dive.

"We spent four days and four nights on a live-aboard boat cruising Thailand's Andaman Sea," Krejcik said. "Basically, all we did was eat, sleep, and dive."

With rigorous training, he was able to swim to depths of 120 feet below the water's surface—sixty feet deeper than the permissible depth for most beginners.

"I wasn't worried," he said, "The training was very thorough."

To stay safe, divers need to avoid harmful nitrogen buildups. Krejcik breathed oxygen-enriched Nitrox, which contains less nitrogen than air. He ascended slowly to avoid the decompression sickness a buildup can cause.

Krejcik explained, "It's like opening a soda bottle slowly to release the pressure gradually and prevent micro bubbles forming in the bloodstream." Before resurfacing, he paused at his "safety stop" fifteen feet below the water's surface to adjust to pressure changes.

The fish-eating sharks he saw posed minimal threat, and were visually arresting. "They would rather swim away than meet a human," Krejcik said. His dive photos boast an eccentric array of undersea creatures, including lumpy Giant Potato Cod, spiny Pipefish, and colorful Christmas Tree Worms.

So far, Krejcik has taken three diving excursions: two to Thailand, and another to the Great Barrier Reef. While in a remote area of Thailand during this winter's shutdown, Krejcik even chanced upon a SLAC couple between dives.

His future undersea explorations include more cave and night diving in remote locations. As for the San Francisco coast? "It's too cold when you're used to warm Australian waters," he said.

—Alison Drain, SLAC Today, January 10, 2007

Above image: Patrick Krejcik near Thailand's Similan Islands in December, 2006. He pauses at his safety stop to take a photo, allowing his body to purge itself of some absorbed nitrogen. (Click on image for larger version.)