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Neutral Buoyancy


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Healing waters; clutching at air - Fiji, South Pacific; organic gold - Tarpon Springs, Florida, Desroches Island, Amirantes; straightening the bends - County Down coast, the Irish Sea; advanced French - Freeport, Bahamas, Farquhar Island, southern Indian Ocean; flickering images - Vienna, Austria; in the shadow of the fire god - the Mismarck Sea, western Pacific; chariots of war - Long Beach, California, Perevil Ledges, Dorset; habitats - Conception Arena, Seychelles; hell's teeth - the Bahamas, western Atlantic; diving free - Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardinia; meeting of minds - Brissare Rocks, Seychelles.

About the Author

Tim Ecott joined the BBC World Service as a producer and correspondent in news and current affairs. A specialist on Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean he spent two years based in the Seychelles where he developed a parallel career as a dive leader. He lives in Richmond, London.


Whenever I think about my years of scuba diving, the phrase that comes to mind is "variety of experience." This is also the best characterization of Ecott's book. An excellent writer and veteran reporter for BBC World Service, the author runs the gamut of the diving experience: he includes almost poetic descriptions of the mystic experience of weightlessness and being one with the underwater world, a history of diving, a discussion of hyperbaric physics and physiology, travel narratives of exotic diving locales, and an extremely interesting chapter on Florida sponge divers. This broad sweep is both the book's strength and its weakness. With something to appeal to everyone, it lacks an overarching focus. This also makes the book difficult to classify and hence to recommend to a specific audience. However, it is both enjoyable and informative and would be of interest especially to those who are new to scuba diving and looking for wide-ranging information. It would make a good supplementary reading assignment for a beginning scuba class. Recommended for academic, high school, and public libraries where there is interest in scuba diving. Margaret Rioux, MBL/WHOI Lib., Woods Hole, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Plunging off the shores of Florida, Australia, the Western Pacific islands and other coastal locales, BBC world service reporter and producer and certified dive-master Ecott provides a fascinating, albeit uncritical, look at the fast-growing world of undersea diving. Vivid descriptions of what's to be seen show skeptics what they're missing: coral as green as a "fine piece of carved jade," as scarlet as a "humming-bird feather" and as pink as the "petals of a carnation in a buttonhole." Along the way, he recounts the history of the sport, which has grown from a risky enterprise practiced by a brave few to a far more mainstream, increasingly high-tech recreational endeavor. In interviews, the sport's pioneers (crusty individualists, not surprisingly) express some resentment toward Jacques Cousteau; they believe he stole glory due others. Though Ecott at times suggests discomfort with the diving world's competitive ethos, he seems reluctant to criticize it outright or to question the sport's cult of extreme risk-taking. And while mindful of the sport's dangers (in one particularly terrifying incident, Ecott nearly dies in the English Channel), he emphasizes its spiritual appeal: the title refers to a state of equilibrium that scuba divers aspire to a feeling of weightlessness. Agent, Natasha Fairweather of A.P. Watt. (July) Forecast: Ecott's journalistic acumen his pieces have appeared in Esquire, the Economist, National Geographic and elsewhere makes this an above-average look into a microculture. Lifestyle magazine coverage, plus word-of-mouth recommendations or summer-oriented displays, will lead fans and curious readers alike to this title. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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