Embracing The Blue

Making Memories Beneath The Waves

Story by Ryan Percy
Photography by Marty Robinson

The great blue expanse of the ocean. For many, the idea of water stretching out in all directions can be terrifying, but under the waves there is a great deal of beauty. Reefs, fish, octopi and others, a marvel of colour to take in. While many people might only get a chance to see such things on a nature documentary, there are others that go out and dive down to take in nature for themselves.

Enter, Marty Robinson, a 59-year-old retiree. When you picture a scuba diver you likely imagine someone much younger. But Robinson is almost more at home in the water than he is on land.

“I’d always wanted to do scuba diving,” Robinson says with a slight laugh. “But every time I went to a resort I was with my ex-wife or girlfriend at the time and they didn’t want to do it. So, I didn’t want to leave them on a resort by themselves while I went out, so I never got around to it.”

Marty and Carrie Robinson.

But what finally gave Robinson the push might be one of the things you would least expect. In 2014, sitting on his recliner, an episode of The King of Queens came on the TV. The main character decides to go and try out scuba diving. It rekindled something in Robinson, and he went looking for options in Windsor.

“I found Benthic, a local dive shop and they were starting a class that afternoon, so I bought my basic equipment and started my open water course,” Robinson says with a smile as he recalls the memory. “I got hooked immediately.”

Robinson’s joy of scuba made him dive even deeper, completing several certifications for different kinds of diving and even ended up becoming an instructor. By the time 2020 rolled around he had over 400 dives under his belt.

But what kept him coming back? What made him strap on his dive suit and equipment over and over?

“Tranquility,” he says. “It’s so calm and peaceful, the only thing you hear is your bubbles. You get down there and it’s so colourful and beautiful.”

Robinson does not dive out into the ocean, swimming down to wrecked ships where you can no longer see the sun shimmering on the top of the waves.

“We don’t dive places like that, there’s nothing to see,” Robinson says of open ocean, called pelagic waters. “There’s almost no life to see there. Life is on the reef.”

While he was diving and seeing the bountiful life on the reef the idea came to him to start taking pictures to keep and share the memories.

“It’s the same as you going on a trip somewhere and taking pictures of what you see or the people there with you,” Robinson says of how he picked up underwater photography. “I just see different things. If you’re in Rome you take one of the Colosseum, I’m doing the same with sharks and coral and cool things I see.”

Marty’s diving has taken him across the world. From the diving quarries in Gilboa, Ohio where he was trained and trained other divers, to the Bahamas and Philippines. He still dreams of diving in the Galapagos and a few other places, but money becomes an issue.

He also is not the only one going diving in the home. His wife, Carrie, is also one with the water with over 100 dives.

“Some people are really comfortable underwater, some aren’t,” Robinson says of how Carrie started diving about five weeks after him. “It took her a little bit of time to get used to it.”

Not long after their trips started to focus on diving, every place they ventured to was a new chance to plunge into the blue and explore. What this has lead to is a wealth of experiences that he talks about as if they were almost religious. One stood out especially, seeing whale sharks in the Philippines.

“It’s like you can’t blink, you can’t look away,” Robinson says with awe. “They’re graceful and gentle. The pictures that you see in magazines or on TV doesn’t do them any justice. They’re enormous and truly spectacular.”

Another came in the Caribbean, when Robinson was diving along the reefs and a six-foot-long reef shark approached and swam alongside him. He had no real fear of it since, as he puts it, you would not walk into a field to bite a cow.

While he does warn that scuba diving is not a sport for the limit-pushers and adrenaline junkies he says he wished he had taken the plunge sooner.

“I fell in love with it and I just want to do it forever,” Robinson says with a smile. “I wish I had started 30 or 40 years ago. Because hearing from people diving back then the sea life was even more beautiful than it is now.”

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