Deep water: scuba diving

scuba diving
Dr Mark Spencer in Turkey, 1998, preparing to dive off the MV Saros for his descent to the AE2 submarine at a depth of 72m. Helping him is John Thomson, son of Arthur Bray, the signalman aboard AE2 back in 1915.

Whether he’s diving in open water, caves or on wrecks, Dr Mark Spencer of Coffs Coast Dental in NSW finds great peace in scuba diving.

“We found the wreck of the AE2 resting on the sea floor at 72 metres. This Australian submarine had been sunk by the Turks in April 1915. There was some corrosion in the conning tower and a bit of bow damage but, apart from that, it was essentially intact.

“I started diving when I was in my third year at Sydney University. One of the big sports stores on George Street was advertising diving lessons and I thought it would be fun. I completed a scuba-diving course and then gave it up for the next five years while I completed my degree.

“Once I started working, I wanted to get a life apart from dentistry and joined a dive group. I fell in love with it and scuba diving became a regular activity. A year later, I bought an underwater camera to record what I saw.

“For a long time, I was happy to be a basic open-water scuba diver. Then I started diving deeper wrecks and became interested in cave diving. I undertook special training and learned the correct way to use and breathe mixed gases.

“Being able to dive deeper put a lot of interesting wrecks within reach. I’ve explored the Cumberland off the south coast of NSW at 100 metres, though I did suffer from a mild case of the bends on one of those dives. It wasn’t critical but I had an ache in my shoulder for a while. Finding and confirming the AE2 was a real highlight. At the time I didn’t even know Australia used submarines in World War I. 

“I’ve been diving for over four decades and recently I published an ebook called Ocean of Self. Over the years, I began to see a correlation between my experiences in the ocean and with meditation. There’s a profound sense of quiet. It’s almost like restful alertness—a feeling of unboundedness around you. My book explores this connection. At present I am running a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to also print hardback copies of Ocean of Self.

“I’ve found that both diving and meditation offer a sense of freedom, timelessness, and a calming serenity. I encourage everyone to try both.”

See the book online at

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