Ocean Ramsey Beautiful Shark Protector

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

If some people are destined for a specific career, then Ocean Ramsey— yes, that’s her real name—was meant to become a preeminent shark and marine researcher and conservationist. From her home base on Oahu, Ramsey has traveled the world to study sharks in their diverse habitats and bring awareness to the threat that numerous shark species currently face.

She’s also an advanced free diver (a diver without a breathing apparatus), scuba instructor, business owner, and designer. When she’s not traveling the world free diving, she’s at home in Hawaii working at her own company, One Ocean Research and Diving.

Her cause went viral when she was caught on tape riding the back of a fully grown great white shark with no cage or other protection. There’s also the fact that she’s attractive enough to be a model and does much of her work in barely-there bikinis.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

Maxim spoke to the gorgeous 30-year-old scientist about conservation work, eco-activism, and what it’s like to literally ride a great white.

How did you get into shark conservation?

My parents love the ocean, and I imagine part of the reason I love that environment must come from growing up the way I did. I have a degree in marine biology, specialized in ethology (animal behavior), and studied specifics on shark body language, how they establish their social hierarchy and avoid confrontations.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

But I realized that if I only focused on studying sharks and publishing papers, then another 600 million sharks would die while I conducted my six-year study. That realization was the point when everything clicked. I knew I needed to take the science, conservation, diving, and all aspects to a new level with a new approach, so I co-founded the company One Ocean Research and Diving.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

What does your organization do?

My company has a team of mostly female marine biologists who take people out daily to dive with sharks and learn about their biology, physiology, behavior, body language, and how we humans can adapt our own behavior based on our scientific understanding of sharks and their role in the ocean ecosystems. This is all to aid us in creating safer, and more fun, interactions.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

Are sharks really in such peril?

Currently, shark populations have been decimated, with most shark species seeing 90 percent declines, and many species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. The beautiful (and toothless) whale shark, the largest fish and shark in the ocean, was just moved to endangered-species status a few months ago, joining the hammerhead on the growing list of shark species that are quickly being wiped out due to many wasteful practices. Shark finning and regular shark sport fishing are the two biggest causes of these declines.

Anyone up for a little iguana yoga? (All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks)

Anyone up for a little iguana yoga? (All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks)

You gained a lot of attention when a video surfaced of you riding an enormous great white named Bella. What was that like, and how did it happen?

Honestly, I worry that beautifying the experience may entice others to try for a similar experience, which would be a bad idea. But truthfully, some of the absolute best moments of my life have been free diving with white sharks. There is nothing like it, and there are no words that can do it justice.

I’ve been studying and working with more than 30 species of sharks around the world for over a decade, and that GoPro footage of Bella and me was not at all my first time diving with white sharks. I spent years going in and out of cages and absorbing as much time and qualitative information as I could watching them interact with one another. Interacting with sharks is very humbling. I feel a tremendous honor being able to share their space and have them treat me as an equal or similar predator.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

If you don’t mind me saying so, you are an extremely beautiful woman. Do people ever underestimate your expertise or professionalism because of how you look?

I hope that if any of my talents, features, or natural gifts can be used to better highlight the message I am trying to share…then I am grateful that I can be a voice, a spokesmodel, if you will, for them. It’s ironic that sometimes they title photos of me with sharks as “Beauty and the Beast,” when to me sharks and nature are absolutely gorgeous. I did a lot of modeling in my 20s and am still signed [with agents], but every time I get a call to do a project I’m either on our company’s boat or on an international conservation effort.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

What makes the Bahamas so unmatched for a shark scientist or marine biologist?

The Bahamas is a special place because it is protected from shark fishing. It’s a marine-protected area for sharks, meaning that sharks can thrive, existing in plentiful numbers. It’s a world-class destination for diving with and studying tiger sharks, greater hammerheads, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks. The warmer, shallower waters mean that diving to observe and study shark behavior is easy and practical for longer periods of time.

I definitely recommend Staniel Cay, where they have cute nurse sharks and adorable swimming pigs, or venture to Tiger Beach to see enormous tiger sharks.

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

All images courtesy of Juan Oliphant/@OneOceanDiving/@juansharks

What else should we know about sharks, and how would you recommend we get involved?

I am grateful I get to dive with them daily, and the more I study and learn, and the more time I spend with them, the more my understanding, appreciation, and respect grow. They really are one of the most amazing animals on the planet, and anyone who has ever been lucky enough to go diving with them knows how true that is. I highly encourage people to go out and take the plunge and go for a dive with sharks with a well-educated and experienced guide. Sharks are apex predators, not puppies, but they are not monsters.

My organization’s message is simple. Humans and sharks can coexist, and we need sharks to exist because they affect us all. From the air we breathe to the majority of protein the human population consumes, we all rely on the ocean, and sharks are a vital component of a thriving, productive ocean and planet.


Scuba Diving In The Bahamas – SaltyDogs.com

The Bahamas… if anyplace in the world is said to have multiple personalities, it would be the Bahamas. With over 3,000 islands and cays, there are many ways it can be different. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly called the British Commonwealth. While they drive on the right-hand side of the road. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the British Overseas Territory Turks and Caicos inhabit the Lucayan Archipelago. The Archipelago is included in the West Indies, however, it is not a part of the Caribbean. However, most people including those from the Bahamas do consider it a part of the Caribbean. Many Bahamians look at their country as two distinct parts: the main islands and the Out Islands. Each with a different lifestyle and culture. For the tourist and more importantly the scuba diver two very different vacation experiences. The tourism industry is the largest employment sector with over 50% of the jobs being in this industry. Second is the finance sector.

Bahamas Main Islands

The Main Islands of the Bahamas are Grand Bahama Island and New Providence Island along with a few nearby cays and islands. The population of the Bahamas is about 400,000 and 80% of those people live in the Main Islands. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is located on New Providence Island. This island and the connected small Paradise Island is home to over 70% of the countries population. Nassau is also the center of tourism in the Bahamas. You will find casinos, luxury shopping and hotel chains here. Nassau is the busiest cruise port in the world and 70% of the countries tourist are cruise ship passengers. Grand Bahama Island is the home of the city of Freeport and about 10% of the population.


Darby Island and Rudder Cut Cay, Exumas Photograph by Christina Hawkins

Darby Island and Rudder Cut Cay, Exumas
Photograph by Christina Hawkins

Diving Bahamas Main Islands

Diving in the Main Islands is legendary. There have been so many underwater scenes filmed around New Providence Island, including iconic scenes in James Bond movies, it is often called “Underwater Hollywood”. Many of the best dive sites are on the western edge of the island and are near the area known as the Tongue of the Ocean. The Tongue of the Ocean is a

The Tongue of the Ocean is a deep-water trench that is between Andros Island and New Providence Island. The reefs around New Province Island are generally in the 60 to 80-foot range. Whereas the floor of the Tongue of the Ocean is between 3,600 feet (1,100 m) to 6,600 feet (2,000 m) deep. The reefs benefit from the deep water as nutrients are brought from the depths. Sharks and other pelagic also visit the shallow reefs. Expect to see sharks on just about every dive. Looking over the edge of the reef into deep water you may see some of them way below you. There really is some great wall dives here.

Meanwhile, Grand Bahamas Island also has a great reputation for scuba diving. The Underwater Explorer Society (UNEXSO) has been in business for over 50 years and is considered the pioneer in shark feeding. They introduced hand feed of sharks in 1993 and are still doing it. They offer a range of shark diving and also diving with dolphins.

The Out Islands – Family Islands

Once you exclude the two main islands and their few nearby cays, the rest are what is called the Out Islands. You will also see them call the Family Islands. Only one percent of these 3,000 islands are considered inhabited. Many of the “uninhabited island” do have homes on them, often a single residence for a wealthy individual. Andros is the fifth largest island in the West Indies and largest of the islands in the Bahamas, many times the size of both of the Main Islands together. While ten percent of the country’s population live on the island, it’s large size means great portions of it are not inhabited.

Eleuthera and the Exuma Cays are also destinations know for its diving. The Exuma Cays start about 35 miles southeast of Nassau. The archipelago of about 365 cays and islands are separated into three sections and they span about 80 miles north to south. Resorts here are more relax and do not have the commercialism you will find in the Main Islands.

The Bimini Islands are the closest to the US mainland and may be the most known of the Family Islands. Here you will find a mix of small resorts and large scale resort complexes. The area is also considered one of the best sport fishing destinations in the world.


deans blue hole bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island Bahamas. A short distance from shore the Blue Hole drops to 663 feet (203 meters). Photograph by Christian Afonso

Diving the Family Islands

Diving the Family Islands/ Out Islands offers such a range of diving opportunities it hard to believe it is all the same country. Eleuthera and the Exuma Cays are on the eastern side of the Bahamas with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. This can create some robust diving conditions. However, the western side of the islands are protected and can have calm conditions. This area is a favorite for those seeking a liveaboard destination.

Andros provides the diver many different options. As mentioned the Tongue of the Ocean is between this island and New Province Island. On the Andros side of the Tongue, you will find what is called the Andros Fringing Barrier Reef. This reef system is 190 miles long and is considered one of the healthiest reefs in the world. It extends from near the shoreline of Andros to the Tongue of the Ocean. Some marketing claims it is the third largest reef system in the world. This is hard to confirm as the reef does not meet the definition of a barrier reef nor a fringing reef but is somewhat a hybrid of the two. The reef’s many dive sites both along the wall and closer ashore give divers many types of dives to choose from.

Another aspect of diving Andros is that it has the largest concentration of blue holes in the world. Some of these blue holes are located on land providing an experience similar to the cenotes of Mexico. Others are located in shallow waters and allow divers to drop beyond recreational diving depths. Caver divers will find many underwater cave systems to keep themselves challenged.

Sharks are one of the big draws to the Bimini Islands. Located less than 60 miles from Florida, it is on the deep side of the Florida barrier reef. This deep water is a migratory route for many shark species including hammerheads and great whites. Florida has made shark feeding illegal in the states waters so many of the Florida dive operators have relocated its shark feeding to the waters off Bimini islands. Other large pelagic are found here and the wall diving is incredible.

You can spend years diving the Out Islands and still be amazed what you can find. The many shallow coral reefs and cays have created thousands of ship wrecks many still waiting to be discovered. Wall dives, ship wrecks, caves, coral reefs, drift dives are all waiting for you.


Two Different Mediterranean Cruise Styles


My daughter and I are travel addicts. Just the spark of an idea of a trip and the beginning stages of planning fill us with a giddy pleasure we get from nothing else. We have been fortunate enough to visit many countries, and through experience, we have found that the best way to see several places in a two-week time span is to go on a cruise.

Cruises are not for everyone, and my first cruise to the Bahamas many years ago was disappointing. I said I would never cruise again. Years later, my sister surprised me for my 40th birthday with a weeklong Caribbean cruise, so I gave it a try and was not disappointed the second time.

There is an art to cruising, and it begins with matching up your personality and lifestyle with the correct cruise line and then deciding what ports best suit you and those who will travel with you.

In this article, I will be comparing the Holland America European cruise to the comparable Carnival cruise.

In 2013, we boarded a Holland America ship in Athens and embarked on a two-week cruise through many islands of Greece, Croatia and Montenegro, as well as stops in Italy.

In September, we boarded the brand-new Carnival Vista, the largest in the Carnival fleet, in Athens and set sail for another European adventure that would include many ports in Italy, as well as Greece, Malta, Sicily and France.

We had originally booked another Holland America cruise, but because of a few unsafe ports, the entire itinerary was canceled, and we could not find another one we liked. About this same time, we received an invitation to book on the brand-new Carnival Vista at an amazing rate. We had been on several Carnival cruises to the Caribbean; we used it as a way to scuba dive in four top-dive countries in one week, and they live up to their reputation as the “party ship.” At first, we were not sure if that is what we wanted to take to Europe, but the price, the itinerary and the immense size of the ship, as well as all of the on-board activities, made the decision for us.

Following a flight to Athens and an easy boarding process, we were off to sea that evening. Our first port was to be Turkey, but it was canceled a month before we left because of the unrest within the country. This gave us another day to experience the ship at sea.

What a ship to explore! So many areas to relax, so many places to dine, so many things to do. I’m sure that even by the end, I had only explored 75 percent of it. The ship is so new, so clean and so cared for by the crew, which was the friendliest and most content I have ever seen, that it was impossible not to get caught up in it all. We had only two days at sea to explore it, and we did all we could.

They have a ropes course that is high above the ship and is quite exhilarating. Surrounding the course is a brand-new contraption called the Skyride, where you pedal cars around a frame, similar to a small self-propelled roller coaster. We even went down the water slides and played putt-putt, as well as trying out many of the ship’s pools and hot tubs.

One of our favorite activities was to spend time on the serenity deck, which is a relaxing space for those 21 and over. It features comfy lounges and clamshells to read and rest.

Dining is an area where the Vista goes above and beyond the normal Carnival fare. Of course, all ships have the 24-hour pizza and ice cream, but this ship has more — a special salad area where you can custom make any kind of salad you can think of; a delicious Mexican cantina that, along with customized burritos and tacos, also serves breakfast; a Guy Ferraro grill with amazing burgers and fresh-cut fries. Even breakfast on the Lido deck has many items to choose from besides the usual American tastes. Our favorite treat every evening was freshly popped popcorn with a newly released movie on the huge main pool deck.

We booked most shore excursions through Carnival, but we did a few things on our own. When it comes to booking through the ship versus doing your own thing, be very aware of what you choose to do alone, and make sure that you make it back to the ship on time to avoid getting left behind.

To sum up the Carnival European experience, if you want to have all of the normal things Carnival offers — hairy-chest competitions, bingo, outdoor pool parties — and the chance to see Europe, this may be the cruise for you.

In comparison, the Holland America Line is known for smaller ships, five-star dining and personalized service. This is evident by the type of information they give you about the places you will visit. More than a talk about where you should shop and what shore excursions you should book through them, they go out of their way to educate you about each country you are visiting and the cultures and customs there.

They actually help you do things on your own in port and give amazing advice on what public transportation to use as well as where to visit. It is very personalized service, and you feel like you know the entire crew of the ship in a friendly, comfortable way. One of my favorite things on the ship is the library, where they have a variety of books and games available to check out. Even though there is not a giant screen with an outdoor movie, they have a huge selection of movies you can check out to watch in your cabin.

The food and dining service is the finest around. It is a highlight of being on the ship, whether relaxed or formal. Attention to detail is important to every member of the ship, and you feel very tended to.

The atmosphere on the Holland ship is quieter and more cerebral than the party-themed Carnival ship. There will not be island dance music and congo lines all over the ship, and there are many quiet places on board to relax and read. There are families on the ship, and they have wonderful children’s programs as well. They have pools, hot tubs, a spa and gym, all of the things you would expect on a cruise liner. The wooden deck chairs and blankets and hot chocolate on cool evenings are very comforting.

The smaller ship allows for some very special opportunities during the cruise. They have scenic cruising, where they open up the entire front portion of the ship to allow you to get up close and personal at several ports. As the ship pulled into beautiful Santorini, the sun was rising, breakfast was being served and a commentary of the history and geography of the area was being given. As we left Venice, the ship was once again opened up and a commentary was delivered on the culture and history of Italy as we ate gelato, taking in the city’s beauty. Finally, we had more scenic cruising through the straights of Messina with a wonderful commentary pointing out the island of Stromboli and many other places in Italy.

Another offering Holland has on its European cruises is using the ship as a hotel twice during the cruise, allowing you two days in different ports. We had two days to spend in Athens, as well as Venice. One of the drawbacks in cruising is just one day in each place; this itinerary allows two days in two of the nicest ports of call.

After completing my second European cruise and being able to compare two cruise lines, the differences are evident. Holland America offers smaller ships, more personalized service, the finest dining and the chance to enjoy scenic cruising. Being able to overnight on the ship twice and spend more time in port was special. The quieter atmosphere and the opportunity to learn about the different countries we were visiting allowed for a more memorable trip.

Carnival’s Vista offered an amazing array of onboard opportunities. While the service is not as personalized due to the immense size of the ship and all of the people on board, the crew is very friendly and they take great care of the ship. Being able to do a ropes course, new activities like the skyride, an onboard IMAX theater — the list is endless when it comes to onboard activities — makes you want more days at sea. This ship has so much to do; it could stand alone without any ports and just cruise around the ocean.

In the end, I decided that if I go to Europe by ship again, I will go with Holland America; the quiet atmosphere, more personalized service and learning opportunities on board are more appealing to me than the large, active ship, even though I am glad to have had the experience.

René Raaymakers grew up in the Champaign-Urbana area and raised a family in Mahomet. She recently moved to the St. Petersburg, Fla., area to be closer to her grandsons. She was employed as a surgical technologist at Carle Hospital for 23 years and now works at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. An avid traveler and scuba diver, she is now just four short hours away from the Florida Keys and 30 minutes away from the Tampa cruise port.



You Can Swim With Sharks Here

When it comes to bucket-list adventures, swimming with sharks is near the top for a lot of adrenaline junkies. Many of the adventures on the list require scuba diving, but at some locations, even non-divers with a desire to get up close and personal with the top of the food chain can jump in and face their fears.

Bahamas, Bahamas, and more in the Bahamas!

I don’t want to scare the non-shark lovers away from the beauty of the Bahamas, but there are sharks out there. From least scary to the most, here’s where to get your Bahamian shark fix.

Compass Cay Marina is home to a large number of well-fed, friendly nurse sharks. In case you don’t know it, nurse sharks are more like a giant catfish than a great white. You can walk right into the shallow water near the fish cleaning station and pet these gentle guys.

Stuart Cove’s in Nassau has been doing shark dives safely for decades. Caribbean reef sharks feed on fish-on-a-stick as divers kneel in the sand in awe. Reef sharks are some of the least aggressive species of shark. (Forget about what you saw on Shark Week.)

As your fear subsides and you crave more sharks and more excitement, check out the folks at Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures in Fort Lauderdale. They operate live-aboard dive boats with regularly scheduled shark trips in the Bahamas. Expect to see tigers and hammerheads, as well as the Caribbean reef sharks.


There are several shark species in the Pacific waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Sightings of tigers, hammerheads, blues, and even great whites are not all that uncommon. And while divers can expect to see these guys almost anywhere while diving in Hawaii, the Oahu’s North Shore is the place to be for cage diving. Hawaii Shark Encounters takes shark education seriously and strives to educate customers about the need for shark conservation while providing them with a thrilling swim with sharks inside the safety of a cage. No diving skills are required — just bring your courage.


Scuba diving in Fiji is a definite bucket list adventure for many divers. And the fish many hope to see most is shark. Beqa Adventure Divers can make that happen for you. Sharks are protected in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, so no worries about questionable practices. This is an uncaged dive, but per the company’s website, it is a carefully managed feed, where participants observe, but do not interact with the sharks.

Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Home to a large population of great whites, the waters off the Mexico’s Baja coast, attract divers willing to brave cold Pacific waters for some time in a cage watching the top fish of the ocean. Nautilus Live Aboards operates six-day adventures from July to November utilizing submersible cages that descend to thirty feet for a better opportunity to observe the sharks. You meet the expedition in San Diego, motor to Ensenada, cruise to Guadalupe, then spend three full days in the cages watching the predators. Non-divers are allowed, as air is supplied by hoses attached to the boat, but a minimum of a Discover Scuba course is recommended.



Leave Winter Behind And Visit Sunny Nassau, Bahamas

Stay at the Sandyport Marina Village ideally situated on the Western end of the world famous Cable Beach in Nassau, Bahamas and dive with world class Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas.

Package includes:

  • 3 nights accommodations at Sandyport Beach Resort & Hotel
  • 2 days of AM 2-tank dives with Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas
  • Package pricing as low as $671 per person based on double occupancy
  • All taxes, tanks, weights and dive shuttle

Price: $671
Valid: January 3, 2017 through February 10, 2017
Travel must be booked by: February 5, 2017
Website: stuartcove.com
Booking Email: [email protected]
Booking Telephone: 800-879-9832 or 954-524-5755


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