Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Oriskany experience

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Pensacola News Journal
May 13, 2007


"I've been down on the Oriskany 11 times over the past year, and every time I dive there, I am reminded of the great respect that the dive community has for the Oriskany as a military monument and memorial.

"As you descend from the surface, the excitement builds as your first glimpse of the ship draws near. Then, out of the gloom, you see it. It is HUGE! The next thing you see is a large American flag unfurled and billowing in the water current.

"Your excitement is checked as you realize that this is a military monument, a sacred place. Excitement returns as you explore, but the reverence stays with you throughout the dive, and long after.

"I never tire of diving the Oriskany. It is a unique experience.

"I also love to go spear fishing when I dive. I have enjoyed seeing the sea life take hold and flourish. Over the last four trips to the Oriskany, average-size fish that I have seen are in excess of 20 pounds."

-- Bryan Clark, Pensacola

"I've been down on the Oriskany eight or nine times, and every time I go down there, something else is different about it. It's just spectacular.

"I dove it the second day it went down, and you could already see small crustaceans and tiny fish, and now you're seeing fish you don't normally see in these waters.

"First time I went down I said, 'Holy moly.' I did not imagine the grandiosity of it. It's so big. It's huge.

"That ship down there is creating so much life. It's a good feeling because the ship did not die. It wasn't cut up for scrap, the ship is still serving. It's still alive.''

-- George Jose, Pensacola

"The first time I dove it, the water was really clear. The ship just got brighter and brighter. It was reflecting so much light from the surface. It's so massive you just can't believe the size of it.

"There are so many divers swimming in and out, it looks like a child's play house. When you're diving the ship, it's like being weightless in space; you can let the current just float you along.

"I've been down more than 60 times, and I'm still finding places on the ship I've never been."

-- Cathy Watson, Pensacola

"It really is different from last year to this year. There is so much growth on the flight deck. My first impression on my first dive, it was so clear. While we were descending, it just rose out of the depths. It is just awesome.

"I was surprised, being nearly 100 feet down, just how much you can see.

"You can see all kinds of fish, sea turtles, octopus. You can just feel the life of it. It's like flying, like nothing you could experience on land. My daughter and I are going on May 17, and we're so looking forward to it."

-- Karen Davis, Gulf Breeze

"I can't find words to describe how much it changed from this January to April. It looks like a wreck now. It looks beautiful. It's exceeded my expectations. And it's really cool to see the interest the Oriskany has generated around the world."

-- Debbie Norris of Pensacola, part-time dive instructor


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