DeepElite

Peter Hughes, Scubapro Ambassador

Peter Hughes

Peter Hughes is a diving pioneer - and has been for several decades. And he has literally done it all! From owning a resort to an equipment company to a fleet of liveaboards, his passion for the underwater world has never waivered. And he does whatever he can to ensure that world is protected for generations to come. With a wealth of experience, SCUBAPRO has been his equipment of choice for over 30 years.

An interview with Peter Hughes:

Tell us about yourself:

"I have been in the diving industry for the past 45 years. I started as a very young man and have done many things in the industry. Right now I am the founder of the DivEncounters Alliance which is an association of independent live aboard operators positioned all around the world. We've got the best liveaboards and destinations.

Why did you decide to take the giant stride into the oceans?

"Though it is a long story, I'll try to make it short. I was born in Scotland - that is not a great place to start diving! In 1951, when I was 3 years old, my parents immigrated to Trinidad and Tobago. I had my first birthday on a ship on the way from Scotland to Trinidad and it was on that ship, that the officers taught me how to dive in an above deck canvas swimming pool. In 1954, my parents went on vacation in Tobago and whilst there I met a gentleman who was setting up a summer scuba camp and he then taught me to snorkel. When I was ten, this same gentleman Bill Petry from Atlanta, Georgia taught me to dive at Camp Crusoe, Batteaux Bay, and which is known today as Blue Water Inn, in Tobago and I have been diving ever since."

How has diving changed your life?

"That was something that just sort of happened. When I learnt to dive in 1957 as a ten year old, my dad gave me the book The Silent World by Jacques Cousteau for my birthday. I think he regretted it ever since because both of my parents were educated and they expected us kids to do the same. I just had this passion for diving since the moment I read that book - it was all I wanted to do. I did manage to graduate from high school and after that I went to Tobago to teach diving at the same summer camp where I had learnt to dive. It was a three month summer but I stayed there for four years and never came back, never went back to work, never went back to school and I have just been doing it ever since."

Tell me what, if you had to pick one of the most amazing experiences underwater, what would it be?

"That's a tough one. I have had amazing dives, seen amazing places, and had incredible encounters! But how to put them in words, I'm not quite sure!

We know Galapagos is one of your favorite places. Why is it so special?

Galapagos is so special because of what it is, a small group of Islands 600 miles off the South American continent where three major oceanic currents converge. It creates an environment so special; the convergence of these three currents makes for some of the most amazing life and tropical species, and sub-tropical species and just this huge, food source, so there's all sorts of schools of sharks. It was where Darwin developed his theory of evolution, with the marine Iguanas that have evolved from land to sea and the smallest penguins in the world. It's just a whole package of amazing terrestrial experiences and underwater wonders, there is no where else like it on the planet - that I am aware of."

What is your advice to someone considering diving?

"Don't find the cheapest dive program available, $99 or something like that. Get a proper certification, pay a reasonable price, go to a well known, reputable dive shop, preferably your own local dive shop - they need our support. Then go diving as quickly as you can somewhere wonderful. The one thing that I don't agree with is doing your first dives in quarries and mud holes because it is not a good first experience and it can turn people off. I would much rather see these dive shops in the middle of the country or in the middle of winter send their people to the Florida Keyes, the Caribbean or even California. Sure, it costs money - but not a significant amount - and it gives people that first wonderful, wow, experience rather than scaring them in a quarry where they can't see as far as I am from you."

Why should more people dive?

"You know the great thing about diving is? It's a four generational activity, great-grand parents can actually dive with their great-grand children. There is not a lot of sports or activities where people can do that. Think about it. I have had that experience many times where I have taken people diving in three or four generations. You can start learning to dive when you are 12 years old, you can get certified and you can dive when you're 80 or 82 or 90. That's almost unbelievable. So that's one of the great things, it's not a high energy sport such as kite surfing but it has a wide spectrum of energy levels from something as easy as Bonaire to as challenging as the Galapagos Islands for example, which makes it a really great family activity."

What is the favorite thing in your dive bag?

"I never travel without my prescription SCUBAPRO frameless mask because it is one of the few masks that I can find that is comfortable. It doesn't leak on my mustache and it doesn't press on my big nose. I also love my A700 titanium regulator. It is light, it is easy to carry but it is the easiest breathing regulator and it's simply flawless. I really enjoy having those two pieces so I always travel with those, but I may leave anything else behind."

What does diving mean to you?

"Diving for me has changed my whole outlook on life. When I started as a spear fisherman, I saw efficient spearfishing could decimate a reef, and we had to go further and further to get the same catch. Meanwhile, I was teaching kids to dive so these two things were the basis many years ago that turned me into a conservationist. I'm always thinking about the world that we collectively are leaving for our kids. The direction the world is going in is a little scary and because I dive, I have seen this deterioration over the last 45 years. I have become more and more concerned about what has been going on so diving has turned me into a conservationist. My passion is the ocean and I do what I can. I'm not a rich man, so I keep working but within that sphere of what I do professionally. I try to give back as much as I can to conservation in any way I can. I'm also on the board of directors of REEF, which is an environmental organization that concentrates on the Caribbean. Anything I can do in my travels, included bringing people along to make them aware is what I try to do as well."

Why SCUBAPRO?

"I have had a chance to experience a lot of other equipment - some good, some bad. I came upon SCUBAPRO in the seventies and I discovered that it was a reliable brand of equipment. I paid a little bit more money for it sometimes, but people recognized it for what it was, a reliable, premium brand, so I was able to use it as a marketing advantage. I got the type of service that I needed on remote islands that I didn't get from some of the other companies. And the equipment works well and lasts for years. I just have been very happy with it, not to mention I'm extremely comfortable using it and I enjoy diving with my SCUBAPRO gear."

If you could tell us one thing about the oceans, what would it be?

"The oceans are two thirds of our planet and really worth seeing. Once you experience the underwater world, you'll know why it is worth protecting. Every voice we have for the protection of the oceans is going to help. The oceans control every aspect of our life one way or another and if we don't start protecting them now, we will be leaving our children with a destroyed legacy. I have seen a change in 45 years. Please start diving, enjoy it, and see how important it is to the rest of the world. Then get involved saving it."

Name: Peter Hughes Profession: Independently owned live-aboard representative, diving pioneer, conservationist Diver Since: 1957 Learn more: http://www.divencounters.com
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WARNING: When diving, you must follow the rules and apply the skills taught by a recognized scuba diving certification agency. Before taking part in any diving activity, it is mandatory to have successfully completed a scuba diving course. Information on this website does not replace a diving instruction course.