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Behind the Scenes: "City in the Sea"/"Star Gardens"
by Mark Conlin, cinematographer


The first 10 years of my diving career were in California's usually murky and cold waters. When Howard told me we there would be an episode of Secrets of the Ocean Realm shot in the Caribbean I was ecstatic to say the least. The thought of diving in clear, warm water kept me up at night. In California, a drysuit is standard issue. You wear enough heavy underwear to make you feel like you are ready to hit the ski slopes at a moment's notice. Diving in a thin, surfing suit hardly seemed like work at all. It was all very new and exciting, and film production there was a joy for me. You throw on light gear and fall into the water. For the first time in my life diving was easy. I saw my first sea turtles, manta rays and coral reefs. Swimming itself, even seemed easier without that feeling of towing a large parachute. After a number of trips to the Caribbean I actually got a bit of a tan. Anyone who knows me knows that is no small feat. My friends had always raved about the tropics and now I knew why.

At our next production meeting we learned we would be filming an episode of Secrets in British Columbia. I am always excited to see a new area of the world, and thought "Hmm, I wonder what the water temperature will be?".

The Pacific Northwest is stunning. Our boat left out of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. It was so amazing for me to see pine trees right down to the ocean's edge. The small bays and inlets we would be diving in were protected and flat as glass. I was enthralled. It was September and the weather was glorious. Quite sure life could not be any better, I naively walked to the end of the boat, out onto the dive step, and put my bare foot into the water. I think I jumped up a foot and straight back a foot all at the same time. Friends had told me the water was cold but nothing prepares you for 49 degrees. At that moment thoughts began racing through my little head. "How could we possibly make our usual four dives a day?" "Did I fix that tiny leak in my right knee, where I knelt on the sea urchin?" "How am I going to hold the lights if my hands are just popsicle stumps?" "Did I have enough underwear?" "Was there such a thing as enough underwear?"

CONTINUED...


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