Paddy has been diving since 1977 and during that time has racked up well over a thousand dives in a variety of environments. These have ranged from the cool waters of New Zealand's sub-Antarctic, the Caribbean, Belize, The Sea of Cortez to Indonesia. Along the way he became a PADI dive master. Trained as a fish biologist he has a doctorate in zoology and is a full professor in the School of Arts & Sciences at the Denver campus of Johnson & Wales University. He has published three books that have a marine emphasis. These are The Snorkeller's Guide to the Coral Reef, Fiordland Underwater (co-written with friend Chris Paulin) and Fiji's Natural Heritage, currently in its second edition while Paddy works on the third. Paddy also published Kri Eco - Raja Ampat, a coffee table publish-on-demand record of last year's trip to West Papua. For the last thirteen years, during the US summer, Paddy has led a dive trip somewhere exotic. The trips alternate between expensive and less expensive.
Paddy at work, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat islands. Dave Herrick photo.
Our trips have taken us to Lalati Resort (Fiji), Marlin Bay Resort (Fiji), Beqa Dive Resort (Fiji), Paradise Resort in Taveuni Fiji (Pro Dive Taveuni), Bamboo Reef (Fiji) , Waisalima (Fiji), Dive Kadavu (Fiji), Wakatobi (Indonesia), Isla Marisol (Glover's Reef, Belize), Kri Eco (Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia) and Loreto (Baja California Sur, Mexico).
Paddy likes to go to off-the-beaten track places and tries to base his dive trips with local eco-friendly operations wherever possible. This puts money directly into the local community and increases the chance that local environments will be protected.
Fiji Dive Group, Waisalima, 2007
While the trips are open to everybody Paddy has a group of friends who are regulars, so the expeditions provide a wonderful opportunity for an annual reunion. Typically anyone who comes on a trip becomes a friend. As a group we aren't picky but someone who whines and/or breaks coral is unlikely to be invited back. It helps if you like single malt whisky but any alcohol, in moderation, seems to work.
We aren't "gonzo" divers. We won't dive every hour of the day because we relish the opportunity to socialize and to enjoy what "topside" has to offer. Next year's trip to Raja Ampat will offer an optional visit to see Birds of Paradise and a few days "muck" diving in the Lembeh Straits before the trip starts as an add-on option.
Clownfish, soft coral and divers, Fiji.
Our groups range from new divers to two very experienced PADI Dive Instructors. As well as keeping an eye on new divers, they also keep a welcome eye on me in case I get too carried away taking photos. Typically we have a trip doctor as well.
Paddy tends to "stop and smell the roses" when he dives and encourages group participants to do the same. You may see the turtle but Paddy will see more than you do by just becoming familiar with a coral head.
By participating in Paddy's trip you will be helping to support a number of conservation and scientific groups: these include ARKive, EDGE, CORAL, FishBASE, SeaLifeBase and others.