cover image Drawn to the Deep: The Remarkable Underwater Explorations of Wes Skiles

Drawn to the Deep: The Remarkable Underwater Explorations of Wes Skiles

Julie Hauserman. Univ. Press of Florida, $24.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8130-5698-2

Journalist Hauserman does justice to the remarkable life of an explorer dubbed “Florida’s Jacques Cousteau.” Wes Skiles died in a diving accident at age 52 in 2010, cutting short an impressive career that brought underwater discoveries to a wide audience. His pioneering underwater photography—which yielded breathtaking images of such natural wonders as blue holes, “stalactite-filled underwater Bahama caves”—was featured in National Geographic and on the Discovery Channel. Skiles’s addiction to risk resulted in experiences straight out of thrillers: fighting off a great white that had broken into his shark cage, narrowly escaping a collapse in an Australian cave system, and being the first person to walk on the largest iceberg in Antarctica. Perhaps his most lasting legacy is a PBS documentary series, Water’s Journey: Hidden Rivers, which showed the path drinking water takes en route to the tap and the impact of pollution on groundwater. Hauserman doesn’t overstate Skiles’s impact on public policy, noting that Florida’s government still allows companies to pollute the state’s aquifers. But despite that, Hauserman, who knew her subject personally, more than makes the case that Skiles’s innovation and daring added significantly to the understanding of a variety of aquatic worlds, and to the human impact on them. (Sept.)