Monday, November 24, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Man

No not the movie - the man!

I first met Susan and Chip on that same memorable trip on Pelagian in 2002.
Back then, Chip was what Obelix insists on defining as "tout juste un peu enveloppé" , a sharp, terribly stressed-out, sat-phone toting and I believe, newly crowned CEO of an up-and-coming biotech company.
They were simply delightful and we all had a great time, fueled by fantastic diving and an equally fantastic, funny and eclectic group of experienced and passionate divers. Bob Halstead's "Old Farts' Diving" at its very best, all the way from eggs benedict (and Valerie's Vegemite) at breakfast to sunset Cohibas with Stan.
The First Law of Liveaboard Diving postulates that every trip will feature a token asshole (the Second Law being that if you cannot spot one, it's likely to be you) and I remember us commenting that this may well have been the first trip without one!

Apart from a cameo appearance on one of our Shark dives, I haven't seen Chip until this year in Vegas - and boy, what a surprise!!! Talk about him being one half of his former self!
Clearly, the man has a will of steel and has gone through hell. But now, he looks slim, trim and fit and most remarkably, not at all stressed-out! Still sharp as a knife and clearly still well grounded within his alpha personality - but what a miraculous change!
(Picture by Erich Cheng 2008)

Now a successful retiree (surely a transitory condition), Chip has intensified his devotion for underwater photography and rumor has it that he may take up a pivotal role in a Shark Conservation Group, undoubtedly much to the benefit of that Group in particular and of the Cause in general.

Having snooped around on his website, I finally got to see that pregnant blue-ringed octopus I found on a seagrass slope somewhere near Samarai, PNG. But there's also an absolutely stunning portfolio of Guadalupe Great Whites and even some killer shots from my two favorite French Polynesian Passes, Apataki and Tetamanu. A self-confessed equipment hog, he clearly is also a master of post-production, as some of the Shark images are simply the best I've ever, ever seen in terms of color and saturation - and trust me, I've seen a few!

Well done Chip and welcome to the toothy, infighting, opinionated but always entertaining world of Shark Conservation!

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