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Quotable Notables:  EXTRA! Inspiration

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Stardust Inspiration: As repositories of the most diverse creations known to mankind, oceans are infinitely inspirational. We delve their secrets by reading about them, storytelling, skimming across them and watching specials on TV. Only a very small percentage of us actually have the guts and know-how to dive them. Kip Evans is one of those experts. It wasnít easy, since math and science have never been his forte, and naysayers questioned his daring and unusual career choice. However, when he realized the ocean was his calling he persevered, gaining a degree in marine and environmental studies. Like many remarkable people, he is a self-proclaimed out-of-box thinker who has thrown caution to the wind.

Diver/Explorer Kip Evans is Ocean Cheerleader

It wasnít so long ago that divers dragged lead boots, hoses and brass fish bowls into the sea to spy the wildlife. Fast forward to today when a scientist can hop into a little one-man submersible and delve into the jaws of Monterey Canyon.

Kip Evans is one of those lucky divers who have seen things at 2,000 feet that no human has seen before.

The Pebble Beach resident, who has worked on documentaries and specials for CNN, BBC and the Discovery Channel, says, ďI was always someone who struggled with math and science. Iíd beat my head against the wall.Ē However, he got his degree in marine biology and environmental studies and now works with marine sanctuaries around the world.

ďYou never know where life will lead you, sometimes the writingís on the wall.Ē

We meet at his Mountain & Sea Gallery in Carmel where his stunning photography hugs the walls. He demonstrates, on his trendy new Apple, the awesome documentary heís working on about the Farallon Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

He has some tight deadlines in his life. Aside from filmmaking, photography, running his new gallery and traveling, heís restoring a house for his wife and 1-year-old boy. In his off time, he volunteers for the Pacific Grove Ocean Rescue Team.

Steady voltage emanates from the fresh-faced 37-year-old . . .

Q: What do you have in common with other remarkable people?
A: (slightly shy) Iím an ocean cheerleader. Sylvia Earle is remarkable. Sheís out there diving in her Ď60s. (He worked with her as a contract photographer for a National Geographic Society project called ďSustainable Seas Expeditions.Ē) Iíve seen in my personality the ability to not take no for an answer. Not to let people dictate what it is youíre supposed to do with your life. For most of us, itís like having a big weight around the neck when weíre told to conform and to take a certain job in society. A lot of thinking I do is out of the box. The things I do are non-traditional. I share that with other remarkable people.

Q: And it ainít easy, right?
A: Itís difficult. I came to two paths crossing in the woods. Being the scientist was more traveled. Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind. Iíve been willing to take some chances a lot of people feel uncomfortable with. Itís come with a lot of internal struggle.

Q: As an environmental consultant, whatís the state of the ocean?
A: If youíre not a person thatís peered underneath the waves you see at the beach, youíre missing a whole world out there; a world filled with beauty, amazing features, geologically and biologically rich with life in some areas. At the same time, weíre perilously close in some areas to being devastated. I think signs of that are even in our own backyard with pollution seepage, etc. What I love about the ocean so much is that itís so incredibly dynamic and rich with life and intricate geological formations. Itís amazing to me so many people arenít seeing below. We need a greater understanding of what most of our planet is Ė 72 percent of our world is ocean.

Q: Whatís the most fathomless thing youíve seen there?
A: I did a 1,100 foot solo dive in a one-person submersible off the canyon here. I was observing and filming krill and was having communication trouble. I ended up being in the dark by myself for 45 minutes . . . I decided to turn off all the sub lights and sit in darkness. All the krill started surrounding me with their bioluminescence. It wasnít steady light, like I expected, but it was blinking. It was the most phenomenal sight Iíve ever seen.

Q: Does outrageous ocean diversity make you more a believer in a benevolent God or Darwin?
A: . . . Letís put it this way, Iím definitely a strong believer in the evolutionary theory, but Iíd like to believe thereís a greater force out there beyond mortal man. My trouble with it being exclusionary is that I think us humans want solid evidence of everything in life and thereís great debate about whose god is the true God . . . I havenít made up my mind yet. Ask me 50 years from now.

Q: Your hairiest rescue tale?
A: I was one of the first rescuers on the John Denver crash and I helped collect his remains. Thatís a moment I wonít forget.

Q: When has curiosity been a debit?
A: A lot of times Iíve pushed things a little too far. But Iím still standing here today. (grins) The male ego taking over can be quite serious. Four years ago on Oahu I decided I could swim through these blowholes in a rock. My wife was there and I thought, ďIím pretty good in the water.Ē I did it once and it was one of those heart-pumping adrenaline situations. So I decided to do a larger swim, but halfway through the lava tube I couldnít see. I was holding my breath and I literally ran out of air. I thought that was it. My back is still scarred by the lava. Another time, diving the mini sub off the Florida Keys, the foam blocks were becoming saturated with water and I needed to resurface, but I was getting deeper and deeper and more curious about what was over the next ridge . . . I had been so curious about the critters, not thinking about coming home - the classic boy/male thing - pushing things to the limit . . .
Q: Ever been claustrophobic?
A: I think you become that way when you canít see. Generally, Iím not claustrophobic. Iíve gotten the Elvis leg before, but you donít want to panic.

Q: Were you encouraged to explore and dream as a child?
A: All kids dream of adventures. I spent childhood hiking, searching, and playing outdoors. We lived in Taiwan and Japan and my brother and I spent hours in rice paddies and jungles exploring. Thereís a big difference with kids nowadays. They spend their time in arcades.

Q: How can tourists go into the water naked but locals get hypothermia?
A: (laughs) Youíve got to wonder?!

Q: Why has National Geographic survived so many decades?
A: Like me, millions of people have a quest for adventure, whether itís in an armchair or get out and do it yourself. People want to live vicariously, and (the magazine) is a great way to learn and see the beauty of the world.

Q: Compared to land, how much ocean is undiscovered?
A: The vast majority of oceans are yet to be explored.

Q: Will we live there some day?
A: At the Aquarius Habitat in Florida, thereís a giant underwater chamber. Itís not unfathomable to think about a small underwater station the equivalent of a space station underwater. Just like space, there are physiological limits to staying there.

Q: Why does Mars get more ink than inner space?
A: I think because outer space is so untouchable, yet you can see it and see stars and planets. Oceans are covered with a blanket. You have to stick your hand through that blanket to see whatís on the bottom. But oceans are just as amazing with life forms yet to be discovered. Weíre really missing out on medical discoveries and keys to questions we may never have the answers to.




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