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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Back to the past.....or is it the future?

Caymans was a great experience and a grand time was had by all, so it was sad to leave it all behind. On the plus side we had a night in Miami and a couple of days in the Keys, so it wasn't all bad. One thing I really wanted to do on the drive to the Keys was stop off at the Diving Museum in Islamorada. I never managed to get there on previous visits to the Keys, but this time it was happening.
Old, older, oldest.....
Its a great way to spend an hour or two if you're down in the Keys and if you have any sort of interest in diving at all, it should definitely be on the list of things to do. Even non divers would find it interesting as they make reference to lots of things even non-divers would have heard of; Verne's 20,000 leagues under the sea, Seahunt, etc., stuff that people would have grown up hearing about.
Where it all began
And there's plenty of interactive activities to keep people occupied as well, such as the "How long you can hold your breath" test. I'll admit that I gave up at 1m 22s.
Mabs puts in a time of 43 seconds, the quietest she's been the whole holiday!
They also boast one of the largest collections of antique diving helmets in the world and you get a full voice guided tour through the history of them and key events involving them.
So many helmets to choose from
They also had an excellent section on underwater photography and filming over the years with the pioneers who have brought the underwater world to dry land prominently displayed like Lottie and Hans Hass, Roy Miner and Wes Skiles to name a few.
Always one of the most interesting exhibits for me
They also had a great selection of homemade diving helmets made by people over the years, some showing great ingenuity and most being downright scary! And they show the pressure damage to prove it too. Nutters.
Mabs does her best to steal the 32kg ingot. Typical Dalkeith lass......
They also had a good history of conventional dive equipment over the years with display charting the evolution of rebreathers and open circuit. The principals have always remained the same but the technology has come a long, long way. It's scary to think what it may be like 20 years from now.
Some early rebreathers....
.....and some early regulators
There was a scary moment during the visit though with an unusual sighting of a pair of marine creatures seldom seen, luckily I was quick enough to document it on camera. These pair make the yeti and the Loch Ness monster pale in comparison!
The creatures from the black lagoon! Run! Flee!
As you come to the end of the tour, there are some fine examples of atmospheric suits which look so heavy and cumbersome on land but can move so gracefully in the depths, demonstrating mans ability to continuously push the envelope and explore the oceans which we haven't even began to fully understand yet.
The girls take a new friend home with them
The museum is well worth your time, effort and support to keep it going and to help educate others about how man has strived to explore the unknown over the centuries. Hopefully it will still be around to witness the underwater technological breakthroughs over the years to come. And don't forget to buy a t-shirt!
This one fits!