PADI has teamed up with underwater photographer David Valencia to create a stunning new series of certification cards. The Blue Water Series by David Valencia limited-edition replacement cards showcase three incredible interactions between divers and the planet’s most majestic creatures.
“Through these moments and images it is my hope that people may discover or rediscover our deep connection with the ocean,” says Valencia, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. “This connection is necessary in compelling those to preserve this important environment for generations to come.” Valencia shares the stories behind these photos.
Humpback Whale and Diver, Roca Partida, Mexico Humpback whales arrive each winter in the waters of Baja and southern Mexico. At the isolated dive site of Roca Partida, an oceanic pinnacle of the Socorro Islands, humpback whale interactions have increased over the past few years. At the beginning of one of our dives, a female humpback dived down to us and rested in front of the group. She hovered there, motionless, except for her giant pectoral fins that sculled back and forth. Her giant eye watched us as we found a respectful distance. Observing a living being as large as a submarine underwater is an experience difficult to express in words. She stayed with us for about 25 minutes and then floated to the surface tail first, seemingly playing. She took a few breaths and dived back down to the group. The divers came up beaming – it was the most amazing experience of their lives.
Schooling Jacks, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, Mexico Cabo Pulmo is a National Marine Park located 112 kilometres/70 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Cabo Pulmo has become a source of pride for this small community, and all of Mexico. It wasn’t long ago that the community of Cabo Pulmo was a subsistence fishing village; the families had been fishing the area for generations. A few elders in the community began to notice fewer catches and smaller fish than in the past. There was a movement in the community to preserve the area, and in 1994 Cabo Pulmo became a national marine park. Now, the community works to conserve the area and the marine life that lives there. The community shares their special place with divers and other visitors from all over the world.
This giant school of jacks has become iconic in highlighting the success of the marine park. The size of the school is impressive – the school can fill an area as big as a basketball court, and from top to bottom is about 15 metres/50 feet in height. In this shot I was following my dive buddy, Adil, as he took video of the inside of the school. Finally he emerged from the middle of the school of jacks and there were two goliath groupers in front of him. The fish slowly separated and formed a nice frame around my friend and the groupers.
Giant Pacific Manta Ray and Diver, Isla San Benedicto, Mexico Giant Pacific mantas are graceful in every turn. It’s no wonder divers fly all over the world to see these gentle giants. However, mantas are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In certain parts of the world these mantas are becoming increasingly rare as they face persistent fishing pressure.
In Mexico’s Socorro Islands, located 400 kilometres/250 miles southeast of Cabo San Lucas, interactions with mantas are magnificent. It’s not just the sightings of mantas that can make dives with them special, but also the types of interaction. To the delight of divers, mantas enjoy bubbles on their bellies and they will soak up the bubbles as long as there are divers. It’s an amazing sight to see and it also provides divers with a unique insight into their behavior. During this dive, while we were playing with the mantas my dive buddy, Adil, happened to be filming as a black manta slowly squeezed between us. The large manta (four metres/16 feet from wingtip to wingtip) was gliding over me to get to my bubbles. As the manta soaked up the bubbles looked into its eye and could see it processing our interaction. This occurred nonstop for the entirety of our dive.
The Blue Water Series by David Valencia limited-edition replacement cards are now available for PADI Professionals and student divers through the PADI Online Processing Center on the PADI Pros’ Site.
To see more of David Valencia’s photography, visit david-valencia.com.