Charleston becoming a scuba scene favorite

Each dive comes with a chance to see as many as 50 different species of marine life.

By Chris

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Lowcountry is known for beautiful beaches, abundant history, gorgeous sunsets, and now, increasingly, for{}its scuba diving scene.

Charleston Scuba Inc. has helped Carolina diving become more popular. Captain Tom Robinson charters the company's Trinity boat, an island hopper, certified by the USCG and specially made to haul around an excited group of divers.

"We don't get this type of (species) mixing in Florida or other parts of the country where they've been heavily fished," Robinson said.

On the day ABC News 4 accompanied the Trinity's crew they were headed to a ledge system about 15 miles past the Charleston jetties.

A normal day for a charter starts with a boat ride. It takes about an hour to get there. That hour is spent by most on board wondering what the day will bring.

"We just saw a dolphin," said Carrie Baartmans. "Maybe we'll see some turtles."

Baartmans, who was staying in Kiawah for vacation, was diving with her husband and youngest son. After arriving to the first waypoint, she started assembling her gear and prepping herself for the dive.

"You have to relax, keep your breathing slow. It's just so exciting but peaceful," she said. "That first fall in the water is just wonderful."

Once submerged, divers say they experience a sort of total zen. They say the time spent down under is like nothing on land.

"You're surrounded by life," Captain Robinson said. "The water is teaming with small fish, large fish. They work up and down the ledge. There's bottom dwellers, sheep head, spadefish, amber jack and they're all swimming by. Occasionally a rough tail ray will come through. "

Strapped to each diver's back is a 40-pound tank filled with enough compressed air to last about an hour. That gives divers enough time to see on average close to 50 different species of marine life.

As tanks started running out of air on our trip, divers started popping up one-by-one. One of the last ones to come up was Jeff McDonald.

"We saw big schools of spadefish some hammer jack and a nurse shark," he said.

Tom Robinson said finds like that are routine for divers just offshore Charleston.

"When people ask me where my favorite place to dive is, I say Charleston."

Before you can dive anywhere in the United States you must become certified. For information on how to get that certification click here.

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