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Oases in the Desert: The Lakes of Arizona

Arizona is a state, which is prominent for its nea...

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water: North Carolina’s Frying Pan Shoals

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water: North Carolina’s Frying Pan Shoals

Recognized as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, Nor...

Whidbey Island: Gateway to Paradise

Whidbey Island: Gateway to Paradise

“The Pacific Northwest, and particularly Whidbey I...

Diving Whidbey Island

Diving Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island, located in the northern section of...

Isle Royale: Wreck Diving Fit for Royalty

Isle Royale: Wreck Diving Fit for Royalty

The Great Lakes have many shipwreck “hot spots”: p...

Beautiful Central Belize

Beautiful Central Belize

Almost in the middle of Belize’s beautiful coast l...

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Kentucky Blues: Music, Lakes, Quarries, …

10-06-2014

Kentucky is known for Bluegrass music, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders, Johnny Depp, Mohammed Ali, Jim Bowie, and Daniel Boone’s adventures exploring, but the one person from this...

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The Colorful World of Georgia’s Gray’s R…

10-06-2014

Off the shores of Georgia rests a diverse junction where northern and southern waters meet. Here, where nearby Gulf Stream currents carry a diverse amalgam of aquatic flora and fauna;...

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Santa Cruz Island

10-06-2014

Offshore Southern California are eight islands, which offer consistently fantastic diving, kayaking, and hiking throughout the year. Of these, Santa Cruz is the largest and is the most easterly large...

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Destination: Connecticut

Destination: Connecticut

10-03-2014

“It’s so cold, how can you dive here?”It’s a question that’s common place for experienced New England divers, and one that I fielded from a dive student’s father, far too...

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Oases in the Desert: The Lakes of Arizon…

09-05-2014

Arizona is a state, which is prominent for its nearly unparalleled natural beauty: every year, millions of tourists flock to its bounty of attractions and outdoor activities both tranquil and...

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Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water…

09-04-2014

Recognized as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, North Carolina is a state where divers, spear fishers, and anglers congregate to get some of the best R&R the U.S. has to...

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Whidbey Island: Gateway to Paradise

09-04-2014

“The Pacific Northwest, and particularly Whidbey Island, is extremely suited to be a location in a Novel.” Elizabeth George – Author and Novelist Whidbey Scenic Isle Way begins and ends with...

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Diving Whidbey Island

Diving Whidbey Island

09-04-2014

Whidbey Island, located in the northern section of Puget Sound, has an incredible variety of dive sites for different skill levels of divers and for different reasons and seasons. The...

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Isle Royale: Wreck Diving Fit for Royalt…

09-03-2014

The Great Lakes have many shipwreck “hot spots”: places where the tragedies have piled up over the decades due to wicked currents, foul weather and geographic constrictions. These hot spots...

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Seattle Scuba Schools: "Brave"ly helping Nemo

Craig Gillespie of Seattle Scuba Schools
Finding Nemo - Copyright Disney/Pixar

By John Tapley

With its long list of blockbuster films (three incarnations of Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., and Ratatouille to list some), it’s not surprising that Pixar remains one of the most creative and successful animation studios in the entire world.  Their newest creation, Brave, continues their legacy of giving audiences an incredible film chock full of memorable characters, stunning 3D-animation, and light-hearted fun for movie-goers young and old.

The sword-and-sorcery story tells the tale of Merida, a Scottish warrior princess who finds herself creating an unfortunate situation, which only she can make right.  Since its opening in June, the enchanted animated adventure has received strong reviews and has grossed over $750 million at the box office.

Pixar’s expert staff of producers, writers, and animators are known for their high-quality, strongly-detailed work and the camaraderie and focus to pull all the creative elements together.  In their work, they often sink deep into the source material used for their films.  In the case of Brave, writers heavily used Scottish and Celtic mythology to provide a background for Merida’s story.

Utilizing these same principles, the company crafted a smash success, Finding Nemo, in 2003.  One of the highest-rated, most prolific animated films of all time, Finding Nemo is the story of a young fish’s journey through the oceans and his own maturation as he struggles against forces both internal and external.  Along the way, the titular character and his protective father discover colorful characters, fearsome foes, and, ultimately, the virtues of trust and responsibility.  For the creation of Nemo, it was fitting, then, for the production team to spend time exploring the underwater world.  


This experience provided a wonderful opportunity to experience the majesty of the waves up close and personal, which granted visual inspiration.  It also ran parallel to the movie’s strong morals: teamwork; trust; responsibility.  To a diver, and a wandering clownfish, these principles aren’t just used to enhance one’s character - they are pivotal to survival.

After searching for many scuba instruction companies, the team at Pixar found one that fit just right: Seattle Scuba Schools.  Instructor Craig Gillespie was chosen to guide the group into their first foray into the world beneath the waves.  Gillespie spent weeks training the team at Pixar Studios, and although the creative crew often had difficulties arranging schedules which fit everyone’s needs, they studied vigorously and inquisitively.  Craig noted the team’s intensity during the PADI Open Water course: they exhibited a level of motivation far surpassing the average student.  And, to Gillespie, they displayed a degree of excitement, which has yet to be surpassed.

After their diligent work, Gillespie took the team out of the classroom and into the pool; their enthusiasm and curiosity followed. It was an exciting adventure to the team, most of which had not even considered scuba diving before the Nemo project.  Despite getting accustomed to the gear, and other foreign aspects of diving, the team soldiered on and offered each other help and encouragement.  The pool experience proved to be a remarkable success: all 27 Pixar members passed the program.

Finally, the crew was ready to plunge into the ocean and begin their search for Nemo. Although the weather at Monterey, California was less than hospitable, the group stayed diligent; their perseverance and dedication shined bright during the inclement conditions. After two days of diving, the team was prepared.  To this day, Gillespie considers this the most exciting and inspiring experience he has enjoyed during his 30 years as an instructor and was honored to use his expertise to invigorate the talented staff.

In a touching, heartfelt move, which perfectly mirrored the parent-child bonds found in Nemo, Gillespie declined an offer from the team to watch the film at an exclusive private screening.  Instead, he decided to enjoy the film for the first time with his daughter.  “The first time I see this movie, there is absolutely no one with whom I want to see it more than with my six year old daughter,” Gillespie stated.
For more information on their services, and how you can find your own “Nemo”, visit their website here.

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