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Wes Skiles: The abrupt loss of a great person, explorer and photographer.
On Wednesday one of my heroes died. Wes Skiles was the consummate caver diver, adventurer, photographer and videographer. His death comes as National Geographic features one of his images on the cover of the August issue and a long feature inside about the wonderful blue holes in the Bahamas. Without checking I think he’s been a photographer for at least 4 major articles in the Yellow covered magazine.
Wes survived many adventures against all odds and his favorite quote on facebook really sums up what he was about.
Actually a advertisement for Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success”. Pretty much reflects my real life…
A modest man that found public speaking a hurdle to deal with he always said to his friends. "Let me know I’m talking to my friends give me a big “Hey Now” when I get up to the podium."
I can’t say his loss is unexpected, rather I’m surprised he made it as many years as he did.
I spent a lot of time caving with the National Speleological Society and even more time diving as a PADI instructor and underwater photographer, but when I tried cave diving I found the avocation that just had odds stacked to badly out of my favor. It was one of the few crazy things I’ve done that made me say “No this isn’t a good idea”. Wes did this for decades and created wonderful images, added greatly to our knowledge regarding the underwater and subterranean world from Australia to his home in the Florida springs.
I see the luminescence from his fins lighting the dark sea as Wes strokes ahead of us leading the way through the darkness on the ocean at night. Wonders to see and new frontiers to explore. There are rare chances for someone to be the first person to see a place never before visited by man. Wes was one of the few of us to enjoy that thrill.
At Ginnie Springs on Wednesday his friends will gather to celebrate the life of Wes Skiles. I wish I could be there and shout out “Hey Now”