Scuba Diver Australasia - - Cristina Zenato -

swim back. In the late af­ter­noon light, the boat crew might have dif­fi­culty spot­ting me. Yet just as I be­gan to worry, I re­alised we were back at the boat’s an­chor line. The ray had taken me full cir­cle and was de­posit­ing me where we’d started!

It’s dif­fi­cult to ex­plain what I felt dur­ing those mo­ments. Awe, trust, ex­hil­a­ra­tion, tran­quil­lity – th­ese words are barely ad­e­quate.

For sev­eral days fol­low­ing my re­moval of the net from the gi­ant manta, Grand Dad (as he be­came known to us) re­turned to the seamount. Be­fore the trip’s end he’d taken each of us for a “ride” and Howard had added a manta ray seg­ment to the film’s sto­ry­line. Grand Dad and I had also in­spired a new story for Peter, which be­came his novel, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez.

More than 10 years passed be­fore I made such ad­ven­tures my new ca­reer. But clearly, from the mo­ment I set­tled on Grand Dad’s back, my life was al­tered. When I re­mem­ber the girl I was, grow­ing up in Mid­west cities, and the rel­a­tively sim­ple plans I’d had for my fu­ture, it’s hard to be­lieve where life has taken me.


Howard and I were mar­ried in 1981. In 1991 I left the se­cu­rity of my 19-year nurs­ing ca­reer and – quite lit­er­ally – dived into the un­pre­dictable life of nat­u­ral his­tory film pro­duc­tion.

Seven months later I went on my first ex­pe­di­tion as a full-time nat­u­ral his­tory film­maker. I was As­so­ciate Pro­ducer for “Shad­ows in a Desert Sea”, an episode of the of PBS se­ries Na­ture about the ma­rine wildlife in the Sea of Cortez. Howard was the pro­ducer and pri­mary cin­e­matog­ra­pher.

I re­mem­ber ly­ing in my bunk late one night, read­ing Kenneth Gra­hame’s The Wind in the Wil­lows. I came across a pas­sage that Stan Water­man of­ten quotes from this chil­dren’s clas­sic. “Take the Ad­ven­ture, heed the call, now ere the ir­rev­o­ca­ble mo­ment passes! ‘Tis but

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