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Bernie Chowdhury's  Diving Presentations

Adventure/Destinations/Wreck Diving
Expedition Diving
Note: A presentation can be tailored for your group or event.

“India’s Andaman Islands”

Colorful marine environments, a rich history and volatile geology combine in the relatively unexplored Andaman Islands.  Located in the Bay of Bengal, to the west of Myanmar (formerly, Burma) and close to Phuket, Thailand, the Andamans consist of over 200 islands.  Virgin rainforests, reefs, wrecks and caves await.  The water is warm and clear, with plentiful marine life.  Geologically, the Islands are subject to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the occasional tsunami.  Politically, the Islands have been used as prison colonies as early as 1789, first by the Government of Bengal, then by the British, and finally by the Japanese, who occupied the territory during the Second World War.  These Islands are also home to several primitive peoples, including the very aggressive Sentinelese whose first friendly contact with outsiders came only as recently as 1991.  All of this combines to provide the intrepid traveler with very fertile ground – and water – in which to explore.  A combination of underwater and above water slides will be shown.

“Underwater India - Indus Valley Civilization Biodiversity Project”

India remains a land of enchantment: colorful and culturally rich, with abundant history, monuments, and mystery.  On India’s West coast, the Arabian Sea abuts the Hindu holy city of Dwarka, offering warm water diving within sight of ancient temples, plentiful marine life and several mysteries.  Some archeologists believe they have found the underwater remains of Lord Krishna’s palace.  Other mysteries in and around Dwarka pertain to Indus Valley Civilization – one of the world’s four oldest, sophisticated societies.  An underwater biodiversity project led by Indian scientist Dr. Nasreen S. Haque is now underway to shed light on the Indus Valley people.  Come and see slides and video of this unique, off-the-beaten path diving destination.

“Tech Diving Operational, Training and Safety Principals Applicable to Public Safety and Scientific ‘Bounce’ Diving”

Public Safety and Scientific Divers use diving as a tool: a means to an end. Operational, Training and Safety principals gleaned from Tech Diving can provide a useful framework for safe, productive dives in the mission-oriented arena of Public Safety and Scientific Diving.

 "Diving for Drugs"

The underwater environment offers exciting possibilities in the search for new and effective drugs to cure or contain various illnesses.  A recent discovery by Dr. Nasreen S. Haque in New York City's Gowanus Canal has made news and stirred both the public's and the pharmaceutical industry's interest.  Find out about Dr. Nasreen S. Haque's international Biodiversity Project and how research in local and international bodies of water and caves seeks to enhance our medical arsenal against diseases.  Diving locations include the U.S. northeast, the Middle East, India, and more.

“Ocean Biological Discoveries – India and beyond”

Biologist Dr. Nasreen Haque has developed programs to foster public education on the science of underwater exploration in partnership with the World Science Festival in New York City. Topics include seeking medical cures derived from the ocean, and the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  This presentation will take us on the pioneering expedition that led to the greatest idea in Biology – evolution -- and charted the path for the scientific exploration of life.  We’ll examine various locations including Dr. Haque’s expedition experiences with Bernie Chowdhury to the Indian subcontinent and see what they are learning about how life functions.


EDUCATION Top of the page

“Dive Better - Dive Safer: Practical Advice & Tips”

Whether you dive in 30 feet or in 300 feet, and whatever you aspire to do underwater, you can improve your dive performance, be a safer diver and have more fun.  These practical tips from one of the world's leading technical diving instructors focuses on improving your fitness, your gear configuration, and your diving techniques so that you'll be better able to achieve your diving goals and have more enjoyment in the process.  This slide and video presentation is geared to all diving ranges, and dive certification levels, from non-divers to instructors.

“Safety First: Lessons from The Last Dive”

No matter where or in what depth you dive, getting yourself back safely should be your primary concern.  Yet divers too often become fixated on their goals, let down their guard, and become complacent of the dangers involved, with dire consequences.  This entertaining slide and video presentation balances humor with the somber as we examine lessons learned from the world of wreck and cave diving, as described in Bernie Chowdhury's book, The Last Dive (HarperCollins Publishers).  Emphasis is on how all divers can be safer.

“Your Diving Path: Getting from Here to There”

How can you proceed from one level of proficiency to the next?  The path is often unclear and frustrating.  This applies to every stage of diving, from the newly certified to the most advanced practitioners.  This presentation is agency-neutral; it maps the possibilities and potential pitfalls to help you get from here to there.  Topics include: importance, differences and limitations between instruction and self-learning; additional gear requirements; different agency, dive boat, and dive club philosophies and policies; strengths and differences between instructors and dive buddies; cold water and warm water issues; learning more in person and via the internet; and more.

“Safely Advancing Your Diving”

No matter what your current level of experience, you probably wonder how you can increase your skills and safely explore sites that lay beyond your current certification.  The choices can seem bewildering and overwhelming.  What extra gear is required?  What certification course(s) do I need to take?  What will those course(s) really teach me?  Is there any difference in training agencies?  Does it matter which instructor teaches me?  Does it matter where I dive when taking the courses?  This seminar is aimed at ALL divers – and even non-divers – and ALL certification levels.  This agency-neutral presentation will clarify the options and emphasize how you can best get the skills you need for the experiences you’d like – and to do so in a safe manner.

 "Cold Water Diving - Trends, Safety and Tips"

Cold water diving offers unique rewards and challenges.  In order to see and experience cold water marine life, wrecks, or caves you need to be prepared, both mentally and physically.  If you are primarily a warm water diver, you will need more equipment, training and preparation beyond your current experience.  The need for greater thermal insulation is obvious.  New devices such as heated suits pose opportunities and potential hazards.  Alternative equipment configurations, such as side mount diving, allow potentially easier ways to manage the weight of redundant tanks, yet also require more training.  Cold water impacts a host of things, including batteries used in everything from dive lights to diver propulsion vehicles (scooters); rebreathers; the length of time one should plan on being in the water, especially for decompression dives.  This is a slide and video presentation.

“Getting Tech Training”

This agency-neutral presentation guides divers who wish to safely get into -- or proceed further with -- technical diving.  Topics include: what gear you’ll need now and tomorrow; what questions to ask the instructor or shop; how tech training is applicable to ALL diving; time and financial commitment; pathways to success; importance of staying within your training.


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“Salvage at Scapa Flow, Scotland”

Scapa Flow, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, remains the world’s cold water diving “Truk Lagoon” and is Europe’s most popular cold water wreck diving site.  In June 1919, 74 German warships from the World War I High Seas Fleet scuttled themselves rather than be captured by the British.  The ensuing salvage of these ships – many of which had fought at the Battle of Jutland – remains unprecedented.  Seven of the major wrecks, as well as many others, remain for divers to explore in this unique destination.  Slide and Video presentation.


"Wrecks of the Norwegian Arctic at Narvik"

Narvik is relatively unknown to North American divers.  Perhaps its location in the Arctic Circle, its lack of a dive shop, and lack of advertising have kept Narvik and its many wrecks a secret.  More than 55 freighters, surface warships, submarines/U-boats and planes were sunk in and around Narvik during April, 1940 when forces headed by Germany and by Britain fought to secure this vital iron ore shipment center.  Visibility of 50 feet can be had within Narvik harbor and viz of 60-80 feet is common in the surrounding fjords.  But wreck divers beware: convoluted diving policies and artifact rules have resulted in at least one Norwegian home being raided by police, with a diver arrested, as well as Interpol Oslo requesting that the U.S. State Department investigate Bernie’s diving activities in Norway.  This spectacular site has become a wreck-diver’s Orwellian nightmare.

"Norway Deep"

Norway offers exciting wreck and cave diving.  In the arctic circle, the World War II wrecks resulting from the Battles of Narvik offer divers of all cold water experience levels the chance to see and touch historic wrecks at depths from 50 feet above the surface to 230 feet below.  The World War II German U-boat base at Kilbotn offers divers the chance to see the officer’s billeting ship Black Watch and the U-711.  In the capital city of Oslo, much further south and well below the arctic circle, technical divers can experience the German World War II wreck Blucher, which rests in over 300 feet of water in the middle of Oslofjord.  The cave system known as “Plura,” located in central Norway, has been the subject of several intense expeditions by the Norwegian Technical Diving Society.  This cold, clear-water cave has thus far been explored by Norwegian divers to depths over 300 feet.


 "Icelandic Cave Diving Expedition"

Iceland remains far off the beaten path for divers.  Those explorers with the desire, skills and equipment will be rewarded in Iceland with a cache of mostly undiscovered shipwrecks, and underwater caves that have rarely been explored.  In September, 1997, a team of Canadian, US, and Icelandic divers organized by Bernie Chowdhury became the first (and still only?) team to survey and map any underwater cave in Iceland.  The underwater caves of this North Atlantic island nation are still being formed by tremendous geologic activity.  This, combined with freezing, glacial waters, makes for challenging conditions in which to explore Iceland’s underwater world.
Slides from three Explorations dating to 1995 will be shown, as will video footage from the documentary done during the ‘97 Expedition.


"Controversial War Wrecks of Scotland’s Orkney Islands/Scapa Flow"

Scapa Flow, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, is Europe’s wreck diving Mecca.  All level of diver, from cold water beginners through the most experienced technical divers, have plenty of historic - and controversial - wrecks to explore.  The main attraction for divers continues to be the remnants of the German World War I High Seas Fleet, which fought in that war’s major naval conflict, the Battle of Jutland.  These wrecks include three dreadnought class battleships and four light cruisers.
In recent years, the rise of technical diving has opened up ever more challenging sites.  In May, 1996, a team of technical divers from the British Army set out to find and dive the World War I British destroyer H.M.S. Pheasant, which sank mysteriously in 1917.  This project was the first of its kind approved by the British military and is noteworthy because it employed technical, rather than commercial or military, techniques.  The team found what it believes to be H.M.S. Pheasant in 280 feet.  Some of Bernie’s underwater video taken on this project was shown on BBC Scotland news.  Other dives in the Orkney Islands include the controversial war grave H.M.S. Hampshire, which took British Secretary for War Lord Kitchener and his general staff to their graves in June, 1916, at the height of World War I.  Recent British Parliamentary action has now officially restricted these sites.  Video and slides selected from Bernie’s fourteen trips to Orkney will be shown.


COMPILATION Top of the page

“Off the Beaten Path”

Iceland, Norway, Ukraine, India, Newfoundland.  These destinations remain off divers’ beaten path yet they each offer a unique and fascinating insight into such areas as marine life, geology, history and science.  They also all have spectacular dive sites.  This entertaining and informative presentation includes above water and underwater still photography and videos.




“How to Become an Expedition Diver”

How can you become a sought-after expedition member?  Whether you seek to help discover shipwrecks, map caves, find and document undiscovered life, or photograph unique underwater sites, there are definite steps toward participating in expeditions.  Topics include: training and experience; under- and above water skill sets; developing contacts; developing your own team; local and overseas expeditions.