Stockton Rush: The man leading tours of the Titanic

This could be the most ambitious adventure to date. Nose-diving into the great unknown, Stockton Rush, a former aerospace engineer, is braving new depths in sub-aquatic tourism, delving deeper than ever before – to Titanic levels.

But you may well need to liquefy some of those assets before you jump aboard.

His bucket-list topper trip to explore the Titanic for eight days in 2018 will set you back a cool $105,129 (£81,420). No surprise then, that in less than six months and with no ad campaign, it’s already sold out – to the same nine guests who’ve booked up Virgin Galactic’s maiden flight.

But for the man who not only owns but also builds his submarines, the universe is no competition.

“In the vacuum of Space, by definition there is nothing. That means a great view, but the final frontier for new life forms and discovery is undersea – for the next 200-300 years at least,” he told The Independent.

Rush always wanted to become an astronaut, but after his aerospace degree from Princeton and engineering work on the US fighter programme, he was told that his 20/25 eyesight wouldn’t make the cut for an air force pilot.


Rush is leading super-expensive tours of the Titanic (Ocean Gate)

“I thought I’ll make enough money to buy my way into space”, he says. And sure enough, after a period in investment banking, Rush found himself at the Virgin Galactic launch, watching Richard Branson standing on the wing of SpaceShipOne, heralding a new age of Space tourism. The penny dropped.

Casting off from the stars, he set his sights on the seas.

A keen scuba diver from the age of 12, Rush decided he wanted an experience where you needn’t worry about running out of air, feeling cold and equalising your ears.

“I wanted to sit in a submarine and watch crabs fighting to the sound of Mozart for two hours,” he says.

But subs for rent are few and far between. And that’s without the cost of getting them to you, which if you’re in London could be up to £77,500. Rush decided he could steer submarine trips into the fastest growing segment of the travel industry – adventure travel, worth $275bn (£213bn) per year, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Exploring depths previously the exclusive remit of government submarines, Rush now has three vessels. The one he’s working on at the moment, Cyclops III, will go to 6,000m far deeper than any commercial sub out there.

“Shallow dives equal shallow experience. The commercial subs out there are like a Disneyland ride versus paddling yourself through the Grand Canyon. Knowing you’re there changes how you observe it.”

Since 2009 his Washington-based company Ocean Gate has sunk former Everest climbers, moviemakers and nautical archaeologists into the deep. Age is no barrier for his adventure-minded clients – he’s had guests as old as 92 and as young as 12 on each four to five person vessel.

But, Rush warns, “it’s not a chocolate-on-the-pillow job – you’re part of the crew. If there’s an electric charge that needs moving in the middle of the night, we’ll grab you.”

So what makes the superb sub passenger? A good sense of humour, no strong odours and being a team player, he says. If you tick those boxes, you could soon be catching what Rush calls the ‘deep sub disease’. This is when you see below the 1000ft ‘deep scattering layer’, where the marine life that doesn’t reach the surface lurks. He got it straight after his very first sub dive in British Columbia 2006.

“I kept going deeper – I couldn’t believe it. I thought when I get to the bottom there’ll be a couple of octopuses playing chess down there.”

In this part of the sea skulk the creatures too low even for fishnets to catch.

“They communicate with light flashes so it’s like you have multicoloured stars flying everywhere, attracting mates, finding food, distracting predators in a totally different universe.”

Almost every time you go on a sub you see something that’s never been seen before. A National Institute of Health project to collect biological samples from 200-1000 feet in the waters off Papua New Guinea collected nine new species per hour.

Such tourism research will anchor Rush’s slightly more budget Bahamas trip – costing a mere £10,000 and upwards for 3 days, to see deep dwelling sharks interact with their surface cousins at depths of up to 500m. But he plans to make headway in mass market accessibility once the wealthier clients have buoyed up affordability and tech advances, also envisaging voyages to other wrecks.

But then he plans to sink us deeper. Top of his list is to be the first commercial sub to go to ‘hydrothermal vents’ – the gaps between shifting tectonic plates where hot water gushes out that make up the largest mountain range on earth -the undersea mid-continental ridge stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


Stockton Rush is leading tours into the depths where deep sea creatures look more like aliens (Ocean Gate)

One part of them, nicknamed the ‘Lost City’, is home to six-foot tube worms and giant crabs – creatures of the deep that led NASA to think alien life forms could exist on Jupiter and Saturn’s watery moons.

But the best thing he’s seen so far is rather more down to earth. Off Catalina Island near LA, Rush remembers being in the back dome, 500 feet down and sharing a moment with a squid.

“A squid has an eye that looks just like a human eye, they have same visual acuity. It came along and just stared at me, like there was nothing between us. It was so curious and kept looking. There was no question it was thinking exactly the same as me – what the hell is this thing doing here?”

He hasn’t eaten calamari since.

Five Ways to Get More Out of Your Scuba Diving Experience

There’s nothing like the sense of achievement that comes with your first scuba diving certification. After several days of learning new skills, overcoming difficulties and performing tasks in open water, you’re finally free to simply enjoy the underwater world. What was once your classroom becomes your playground, and you become part of a worldwide community that shares the same passion for the ocean. However, many new divers lose momentum after certifying, eventually allowing their qualification to stagnate and their dive equipment to dry out. In this article, we take a look at a few simple ways to keep your newfound love for diving alive.

Continue Your Education

The easiest way to replicate that initial drive and sense of achievement is to continue your diving education. The PADI Open Water Diver certification (or the equivalent with another training agency) is only the first rung on a tall ladder of possibilities. By enrolling on a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, for example, you can increase your maximum depth limit by 12 meters/ 40 feet – opening up a whole new world of exciting dive sites. Adventure and Specialty dive courses help to direct your newfound passion, whether you end up being obsessed with underwater photography or hooked on wreck diving. Ultimately, you could even progress to a professional level, thereby turning your hobby into a life-changing career.

Join a Dive Club – Like the Salty Dogs at

Like most things, diving is an experience that’s better shared. Whether you live on the coast or inland, you should be able to find a dive club near you. Joining a club puts you in contact with other like-minded people – people who will share your excitement about diving and encourage it, people who can recommend dive sites, help organize group trips or get special rates on gear and courses. With this kind of support behind you, it’s less likely that your new passion will be swept aside by the pressures and commitments of everyday life. Now, instead of having to choose between a weekend spent scuba diving or a weekend with your friends, you can combine the two. If you don’t have a local dive club, take the initiative and start one.

Brush up on Your Species ID

For most divers, one of the highlights of the entry level course is seeing aquatic life for the first time. You can build upon that thrill by brushing up on your basic identification skills – so that you know how to tell an angelfish from a butterflyfish, or how to distinguish a squid from a cuttlefish. Learning these differences is easy with the aid of a local fish ID book or app, and with a little practice, you will soon be able to recognize many of the species that you share your local dive sites with. Taking a keener interest in the life around you increases the pleasure you get out of each dive by teaching you to pay closer attention to the wonder of the underwater world. Each new sighting is a bonus, adding an extra dimension to your experience.

Find Your Diving Specialty

Your entry level course gives you the basic skills you need to survive underwater – but there’s much more to diving than that. One of the best ways to keep the momentum going is to find out which aspects of diving interest you the most. For example, do you love diving for its innate sense of adventure and discovery? Perhaps you should focus on wreck diving, or start thinking about enrolling on a tec diving course. Is it the wildlife that gets you excited? Consider underwater photography, or perhaps use your new qualification to volunteer on a marine conservation project. If you loved the excitement of mastering a new skill, there are hundreds more to learn – from search and recovery techniques to peak performance buoyancy.

Travel Often

Like diving, travel is all about new experiences. Each new destination offers the promise of new sites to explore, new wildlife to encounter and new people to meet along the way. Start making a bucket list of dream destinations and experiences, from muck diving in Indonesia to shark diving in South Africa. If you’re on a budget or have limited time off, you don’t have to travel far; even a long weekend to a new dive site on your nearest coast can give you the change of scene you need to keep things interesting. Dive holidays can be adapted to suit your needs. Liveaboards offer maximum time in the water and the chance to meet other divers; while land-based holidays have the potential to keep non-diving friends and family happy as well.



Hawaii Six Scuba Dives –

Hawaii is one of the most stunning locations on the planet, both on land and under the water. Located 2,500 miles away from the nearest continent, Hawaii is the most remote archipelagos on the planet. As Hawaii is so remote, this means more encounters with species that you wouldn’t normally see in other places around the world. The best thing about diving in the waters surrounding Hawaii and its islands is that no dive is the same. In addition, visibility is pretty much excellent all year round. As well as great visibility, there are many species endemic to Hawaii, so this can provide one-off experiences to those who have never visited these waters before.

Where is Hawaii?

Top 6 Dive Sites In Hawaii

Manta Ray Night Dive, Kailua Kona

Manta Ray, Hawaii

Manta Ray, Hawaii

Listed as one of the top dive sites and experiences on nearly every top 10 dive sites list there is, the Manta Ray Night Dive is an experience like none-other. Large lights are built into the ocean floor, which attract unbelievable amounts of plankton to the area, which in turn provides a smorgasbord for the majestic Manta Rays of Kona, Hawaii. However, watch out because the Mantas like to come so close to you that you usually have to duck out the way, before they whack into you. This is nature in all its glory and if you’re traveling to Hawaii, then make sure you don’t miss out on this unbelievable experience.

Sea Tiger Wreck, West of Waikiki, Honolulu

Surgeonfish, Hawaii

Surgeonfish, Hawaii

The Sea Tiger is a former Chinese trading vessel that was confiscated in the early 1990’s for carrying 90 plus illegal immigrants into Hawaii. The Sea Tiger was then purchased by ‘Voyager Submarines’, cleaned up and then sunk as a part of a dive enrichment effort. The wreck stretches approximately 45 meters and boasts some of the most spectacular sights.

With the plethora of marine species that have made this wreck their home, its pretty hard not to see why this dive site made it to our top 6 list. Residents of this wreck includes; 6ft sea turtles, white tip reef sharks, moray eels, eagle rays and huge schools of fish, just to name a few.

Divers are able to penetrate the wreck with the correct dive certifications, entering through the cargo holds and bridge. Even though there is some miner degradation, the Sea Tiger is still in relatively good shape, making it an amazing experience for wreck diving enthusiasts.

Back Wall of Molokini Crater, Maui

Stunning Coral, Hawaii

Stunning Coral, Hawaii

This spectacular dive site often has a slight current, however it’s more or an intermediate to advanced dive site due to its unique ledges and wall drop off. This is a great spot to enjoy a leisurely drift dive. Due to its depths and lack of a bottom, the visibility reaches well over 30m, which is great for seeing wildlife including sharks, manta rays, dolphins and even whales during certain seasons.

The Forbidden Island, Niihau

Rainbow Fish, Hawaii

Rainbow Fish, Hawaii

This amazing dive location can only be accessed from late spring through to the beginning of autumn, as the winter brings swells that are too big to take on as a diver. This is a dive for experienced divers only. There are a number of dive spots at this location, from relaxed dives over 5m of pristine and beautiful corals to walls that drop below 60m. You’ll find spinner dolphins and even monk seals at this location as well as some rare species of fish and plenty of stunning coral.

The Cathedrals, Lanai

Turtle, Hawaii

Turtle, Hawaii

If you ask any diver who has been to Hawaii, what they would class as a great dive location, the Cathedrals is usually their answer. The depth of this location is around 18 to 20 meters, visibility is excellent and every level of diver can enjoy this dive. The two pinnacles that form the Cathedrals can be used as a great wall dive, as well as providing stunning arches and exciting caves to explore. The caverns roofs have heights of up to 6m and are covered in lava rock that lets in little bits of light from the surface, similarly to a stained glass window.

Corsair, Oahu

The Corsair airplane wreck is found roughly 3 miles away from the Hawaii Kai marina. It sits in 35m of stunning blue pacific waters and is in an upright position. Due to its location, the waters are quite rough, so this is for advanced divers only. The plane sank in 1948 and was originally on route from Pearl Harbor when the captain noticed the fuel gauge was going down quite quickly. He thought it was a faulty gauge and decided to continue on with his journey, when the plane suddenly began to splutter. The captain managed to land the plane safely in the water and it then sank with no damage. The captain was later rescued.

Divers are able to penetrate this wreck, however be aware that the yellow margin moray eels like to make this wreck their home, and are not keen on scuba diving invaders. Larger marine life also like to hang out around this airplane wreck with stingrays, sharks, tiger sharks, rays, manta rays and even during certain seasons, whales like to swim by. This is an excellent dive site that should not be missed, if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii.



There are so many amazing dive sites found around the islands of Hawaii, so if we have missed any off this list, please let us know about them in the comment box below!



Eating and Drinking Before Diving

Everybody knows that it’s not a good idea to drink (alcohol) before going diving.  But, what happens when you eat a LOT of food before you go?

Remember how our moms always used to tell us to wait thirty minutes after eating our lunch/snacks/dinner/whatever before going back into the pool?  Back then I always seemed to have a super natural ability to detect when my mother was full of shit with her notes on what’s best for child rearing. That bit about how I shouldn’t go back to my fun swimming activities until the stroke of thirty minutes later was no exception.  Somehow science or natural selection successfully debunked that silly 30-minute-no-swim-rule over the years since I’ve been a kid and I do feel vindicated!  Well, I felt vindicated until scuba diving during a food mishap this last Summer while on vacation with my family.

It was after the first of a two tank dive afternoon that my kids reminded me that we all needed to go eat some lunch or we might all expire from Bataan Death March type malnutrition.  Being on the water does make you hungry!  So, we all decided to try out the menu at Ramon’s dive center/hotel/restaurant which is on Ambergris Caye in Belize.  The menu there looked really good and the food turned out to be excellent!  We were so hungry that I ordered what seemed at the time to others seated at the table, dishes from every part of the menu.  -I consider myself to be a food snob and really, every item that we ordered was exceptional and impressive…  So, I ate what I considered to be my fair share of what was delivered to our food huddle, A LOT OF FOOD!  That turned out to be a DUMB DUMB DUMB idea to eat so much!

Right after lunch I paid the check and gathered my Salty Dogs dive group in order to muster for our next diventure, the second tank exploration of our two tank afternoon.  I felt like a whale I was so full.  Miserable full.  Instead of concentrating on the fun of the upcoming scuba dive, slipping into a full-on food coma was all that was on my mind.  Oh, another thing to tell is that I like spicy food.  I mean I like really really spicy food.  Thai Hot when it’s appropriate!  At that lunch it wasn’t a Thai Hot day, but it was locally Belize grown chili pepper day.  Habaneros get hot, don’t they???  I screwed myself royally with that lunch.  Me being a glutton purchased me the life-like feel of what a manatee must go through when pregnant and experiencing a severe case of HEARTBURN!  Trying not to burp and throw up repeat chili offenders into my reg at 65 feet on that second dive of the day, reminded me that eating right before swimming AND scuba diving, should be managed properly by smart mom types and not by Gore-Garth type ravenous neanderthals like myself!  Remember to watch what you eat and drink before each dive.  Like my mother told me many times before, don’t do as I do, do as I say!

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday.  She’s not around anymore to read this so, I think it’s safe to put down on the Internet for all to see here…  My Mom really did know best.  Happy Birthday Mom.  We sure do miss you!




Free Mares Dive Computer and Free Gear

Our latest newsletter is on its way to your inbox!  Make sure to check out our latest contest giveaway because you will have an unlimited amount of chances to win some free Salty Dogs gear and a Mares Smart Dive Computer & Watch!   Tell us about your wildest diving adventure and you could win some very cool products.  Do you have a bunch of wild diving adventures to share?  Well, tell us about them all and increase your chances of winning!

In growing our online Salty Dogs community-family in order to share our love for everything diving, we intend to run a lot of contests and give away many many free products, come become a Salty Dogs Member and have some fun with us online and around the globe.  Remember that membership is FREE!  So, CLICK HERE and SIGNUP today!


For your free Salty Dogs membership, CLICK HERE.

Enter to win free gear here…  CLICK HERE to WIN!!!




Caradonna Dive Guide 2017

Check out Caradonna’s 2017 Dive Guide!  It’s a fantastic day-dreamer’s guide to paradise and diving fun.  I want two of everything listed.

Click here to view Caradonna Dive Guide 2017


Turtle photos taken by ScubaDo just off the west coast of Grand Cayman with a SeaLife Micro 2.0 and SeaDragon 2500 light before the SeaLife housing started leaking and taking on water.  Dive operator was DiveTech.

Guardian Of The Reef on Grand Cayman

Guardian Of The Reef is a bronze statue that was sunk in about 65 feet of water just off the coast and is easily accessible as a shore dive from Divetech’s front yard on Grand Cayman.  In order to access the dive site from the shore, you have to start out in a man made ocean pool and then traverse a cut through the sea rocks out to the Caribbean Sea.  It’s a lot of fun to do and my family and I can’t wait to do it again!  Very very cool!

I’m in a hurry getting ready for a dive coming up in a couple of hours so, I’m being lazy and not including pics of the pool and cut that we used to enter the ocean on this shore dive.  Will include that later for sure.  Also, you’ll have to turn your head sideways in order to truly appreciate some of these pics.  Sorry for the picture formatting laziness/lack of time.  😉

Viz wasn’t that great on this dive as the ocean was a bit choppy but, how fun!  Check out the artist that made this statue, The Guardian of the Reef.  More later!




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