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Hitching a ride on a manta ray

The Universe Next Door

Judith Hemenway

Best Publishing Co., $12.95

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Landlubbers taking the plunge underwater for the first time will be alternately beguiled, terrorized and inspired by these highly personal, technically informative tales of veteran scuba diver Hemenway’s most memorable dives in nearby and exotic locales. It’s a riotous world of brilliance down there. Even our familiar local waters teem with surreal, voracious and surprisingly playful life forms.

Off Catalina we delight as balletic neon nudibranchs pirouette past colonies of strawberry anemones, while overhead, sea lions zoom by in showers of green phosphorescence. In El Bajo, Mexico, we shrink from a wall-to-wall platoon of patrolling hammerhead sharks, then soar ecstatically as Judith Hemenway piggybacks on the wing of a giant manta ray in a swooping reef-top glide. It’s not all seashells and sea horses, however. Scuba diving’s serious business. Throughout these adventures are cautionary passages reminding us that in the underwater world we are privileged but alien visitors.

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Susan Dworski


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