Meet the Aussie who has been creating a rage with his amazing pictures from life under water. A passion he discovered four years back, Duncan Heuer, the Recruitment Business Partner with Huawei doesn’t need a break to take the plunge. He plans it. He is a deep diver, a rescue diver and off-late, an underwater photographer. Interestingly, Duncan also belongs to an underwater research group, who do reef life surveys to collect data that universities can use for science. Meet the maverick…
How did you discover the joy of diving?
For a long time surfing was my passion and although I have always been interested in diving, I had never taken the plunge and pursued the sport.
In 2012, I was travelling in Indonesia and a close friend who was a scuba instructor put me in contact with another mate of his who was teaching diving in the Gili Islands (just off Lombok). He certified me as an open water diver and since then I have been obsessed with diving. I have all my gear and my partner and I dive as much as possible, on weekends, night dives after work and sometimes, early morning dives before work.
You are into hardcore corporate Industry professionally; do you have to juggle a lot to indulge in your hobby?
After getting my initial certification which equips a person with the skills and knowledge to dive up to 18 meters I decided to pursue diving as a hobby. I returned to Australia and found a scuba shop that offered free guided weekend dives (you were only required to rent gear or bring your own).
[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]By diving on weekends with groups of random people at various levels, mostly people who had done their ‘padi’ license and were doing refresher dives before going on holiday, I improved my skills and got to know local diving sites. I began assisting other divers who were having buoyancy issues etc.
This led me into up-skilling and doing my advance diving course followed by my rescue diver certification. I had made friends with a number of divers and discovered that many of my friends had dive certificates from holidays in the past to Thailand, Indonesia, Central America or elsewhere (but were not regular divers). This made me eager to reintroduce them to dive sites around Sydney where I live.
I started using the skills I had picked up to unofficially ‘lead’ dives and organise weekend trips with friends. After a year or so of doing this, I started to develop an interest in trying to identify fish species and the flora in the ocean. When you dive a site regularly you tend to notice how the fish interact and you begin to notice the intricate ecosystems that exist in the ocean.
Some fish come out to greet you, some are wary of your presence; some are clearly confused by your presence. You get notice that they form households, neighbourhoods, communities. I once saw a cute little box fish, so absorbed and flustered with my being in front of his ‘house’ that he hadn’t noticed his neighbour who was equally curious doing the same thing. As I got closer, he frightened and darted sideways, collided with the second fish and then in a flurry of confusion darted back into his hole in the reef.
Experiences like these resulted in my joining an underwater research group in Australia (URG) that surveys the reefs and contributes to a global data base of information that is made available to the academic and scientific communities. So in a longwinded way, to answer your question I dive for four reasons: mainly for fun, secondly to share the experience with others, thirdly to broaden my horizons and grow my knowledge of the ocean and lastly to contribute to science and our understanding of the life on our planet.[/show_more]
What has been the most pleasant experience so far during one of your diving excursions?
The people you meet. Most divers are people that care about the planet, that understand the importance of biodiversity, that are concerned about the impact they are having and they appreciate nature. I also really enjoy the interaction with the marine life.
It is such a diverse and vibrant ecosystem that many people have yet to experience. You look out at a pretty beach and the blue water and you think it is wonderful (and it is…), but just beneath the surface is a world so bright, colourful, rich, diverse and breathtaking.[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]
I have been lucky to have so many amazing experiences that I don’t know how to answer this question. Coming so close to 3 meter shark that while trying to film it, it swims into my camera; being surrounded by curious dolphins; being in the vortex of a ‘tornado’ of jack fish and not being able to see out because there are so many fish; having 4 meter manta rays circling and eyeing me out as the swim around me; and sometimes the best experience of all is having a partner who shares my passion and we go for a lazy, relaxing weekend exploration dive on a new site that isn’t mapped and we share the silence and magic of being 20 meters below the surface of the water, surrounded by colour, coral, ocean life and curious mysterious but welcoming creatures from a different world.[/show_more]
Was there a point when you were scared and it all seemed like a big mistake (to have taken the dive that day!)?
Haha, well that has happened a few times, but fortunately experience has taught me to read weather and use common sense so those times are limited. One particular experience comes to mind: I was on a boat in the south coast diving with some friends who are very experienced and we made a poor call on weather situation.
[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]It was predicted that a strong offshore wind would counteract a big swell and neutralise a 5 meter swell to a manageable 2m. The boat dropped us off an underwater pinnacle and while we were down the wind halted and the swell picked up substantially.
All of the other divers aborted the dive and myself and a friend decide to continue the dive. We were tossed around like tissues in a storm and bounced up and down the reef. It was like being on a pendulum but underwater. The dive gauge started beeping like crazy because the swell was so big that our depth gauges were registering significant depth changes (something that needs to happen slowly, not rapidly) as large swell passed over head.
By the time we decided to surface the boat captain was extremely concerned (and relieved) that he was able to pick us up because the swell was starting to break on top of the reef which meant he had to stay in the deeper water and we would have been in a situation where he would not have been able get close enough to rescuing us.
I guess the lesson is respect the water and plan dives properly making sure that err on the side of caution when choosing to dive. A well planned dive is supposed to be relaxing and safe. A poorly planned dive can put you in life threatening conditions that are impossible to control.[/show_more]
Tell us about the best places in the world to enjoy diving, and how many have you experienced yourself?
Borneo was a highlight for me. Sipadan is a world class dive destination which is almost unmatched. You have giant schools of fish, sharks hunting around you, eels longer than your body, macro (small stuff) that will blow your mind, underwater caves, strong currents, crystal clear warm blue water and a rich biodiversity gives you access to the richest area of sea-life in the world.
[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]Besides that diving in Komodo National Park, a region in Indonesia is pretty special. Extreme currents draw nutrients across the reefs that allow of a rich diversity of marine life and some hair-raising adventures underwater. I have taken a dive in a number countries but these two place stand out for me.[/show_more]
What’s the best thing about being underwater? And the worst?
The best thing for me is being in control (relatively) while being completely at the mercy of forces beyond my control. That is why endeavouring to understand the ocean and the weather and the science behind the sport is so critical. It is a complete letting go while being in control which is a fascinating balance. Also the weightlessness and slow movement in an alien environment, filled with thrilling creatures that are perfectly adapted to living in these niche complex environments which engender a respect and appreciation for life in general.
The worst is the need to pee when wearing a drysuit!!! haha
You also teach diving? Tell us about any interesting incident that happened while teaching someone?
I do not teach but frequently guide less experienced divers in an attempt to share the experiences I have discovered. Seeing someone interact with certain types of fish and reading their body language (because you obviously cannot talk underwater) is so rewarding.
[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]You have travelled so much, any place in particular that you felt like calling home?
Australia is home, I love the diversity that it offers. Sydney is great, we have a cooler temperate oceanic environment, while at the same time being on the cusp of the east Australia current which brings in reef species of fish and aquatic life. This creates a dynamic and interesting environment to explore. A second home would be Indonesia. I have visited four times and find the people so welcoming, the pace of life so attractive, the food divine and the diving is incredible.[/show_more]
All the wonderful pictures that you click underwater, tell us about how it all turned into a passion?
I am a shameless advocate of my photos and not because I am trying to get people to say “wow, great photo!” but because I am so excited about the experiences I have had that I hope these pics make people realize the variety of fascinating animals that can be seen right on the doorsteps.[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]
Diving is not an elite sport that costs a lot of money and requires skills only certain people can do. It is very accessible, and with a small investment in training and second hand gear can be an affordable and rewarding hobby. You can get your certification for $200 – $300, and pick up second hand dive gear in good nick for a similar price if you look on eBay and Gumtree. After this a dive will cost you the price of refilling your tank (just a few dollars).[show_more]
Your recent trip to Indonesian waters, what did you discover there?
Indonesia is slap bang in the middle of the coral triangle and is an extremely accessible, hospitalble part of the world. A good tip for travelling and diving in Indo is to ask for a local dive guide. They know where to find all the cool, rare species of fish and will understand the locations and currents and make sure that you have a safe and mind blowing adventure.
[show_more more=”Read More” less=”Read Less” color=”#0066cc”]Your break from work is diving, and vice a versa, is there something else in between that you like to catch up on?
I surf, play underwater hockey, love reading and learning, currently enjoying fiddling with my camera and figure out what F stops and ISO have to do with the price of pork.
In one line, Duncan Says…
It is easier said than done… is what the procrastination monkey says.
The creatures down below… are the same as you, they have family, friends and a way of life that is unique and special.[/show_more]
Check out Duncan’s exclusive pictures on his insta id- Aussie Bubbles