As soon as he started scuba diving, Dr Fadi Dalati of Sydney’s Dulwich Dental decided to put down his spear gun and pick up a camera
Just off Maroubra [NSW] is a beautiful scuba-diving spot with a natural population of grey nurse sharks. It’s about 30 metres deep and there’s a cave where the sharks congregate. A lot of them are more than two metres long and they come out to greet you.
“It can be a bit scary when you’re descending from the boat and there’s a reasonably large shadow swimming below. It’s impossible to tell the kind of shark or what its intentions are. However, once you get down there, it’s actually very calm. The grey nurse sharks are very placid and inquisitive. It’s amazing to be so close to them in their natural habitat.
“About 14 years ago, I was really into snorkelling and spearfishing. As a spearfisher, I was out to kill as many fish as I could for dinner but now I have a completely different perspective. From the moment I tried scuba diving, I gained a respect and real appreciation of our marine life.
“I am currently classed as a rescue diver with PADI [Professional Association of Diving Instructors] and I try to scuba dive at least once a fortnight. Down the south coast is beautiful with very pristine, crystal-clear water. Sydney also has some nice spots but it’s a bit more polluted.
“I use a full face mask which means I don’t have to breathe through a regulator. The air circulates in such a way that it automatically defogs everything. I also love photography and usually take my camera to shoot photos of the marine life.
“I would love to dive in Vanuatu where there’s a massive sunken navy ship at about 70 metres. You dive it over several days, starting at the deepest point and work your way up. It’s scattered with old military gear and it’s possible to penetrate the interior and visit the different levels.
“Scuba diving is a real release from dentistry. You’re not focusing on a very complicated task—your mind relaxes and you feel a lot more at ease. Instead of being confined to a room or practice, you’re floating in a completely different environment.
“It’s very tranquil when you’re underwater. The only things you can hear are the crackling
of fish eating coral and the bubbles from your regulator. To be a weightless visitor to this quiet and beautiful place is wonderful.