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|Bell Diving as a concept, is very old. Alexander the Great is said to have descended to the ocean floor inside a large bell. With no fresh air being pumped in and no windows, it could not have been an extremely rewarding experience. The undersea walk would have to wait until the air pump was invented.|
|My grandmother, with her two boys, immigrated to Bermuda from New York to escape the Depression in 1930, according to rocking chair history. At age ten, young Bronson Hartley was expecting to see jungles filled with parrots and monkeys. His disappointment was soon soothed by the wild life undersea, with the sight of parrotfish, angelfish and jungles of waving corals. Within a year, he built a diving helmet out of a white lead tin. See side photo. During the years leading up to World War II, he took his friends to see the fascinating marine life. He also worked for the famous ichthyologist Dr. William Bebee who, like him, devoted his life to bringing the undersea realm closer to the ordinary person. Dr. Bebee gave his diving helmet to my father, and you can see it at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. www.buei.org A replica of the famous Bebee bathysphere is at the Bermuda Aquarium in Flatts village. www.bamz.org. Carol Grant Gould, who wrote a book on Dr. Bebee, came diving with us and wrote and article which appeared in the New York Times. Click here to see that article.|
|After serving in the US army as captain of the airsea rescue boat, with numerous heroics, (Check out his honorary mention) he decided to turn his hobby into his vocation. On his first professional diving trip in 1947, he took five schoolteachers, one at a time, and charged them five dollars each. His first boat was a double ender called the 'Ark'. His trips left from near Flatts Bridge to a site near Green Bay in Harrington Sound. For a while he had a reef by Bailey's Bay, and eventually claimed a reef by Stag Rocks just outside Shelly bay, as his regular dive site. Using his 50 foot boat Carioca he showed Bermuda visitors the home of Helen the Angelfish, Theodore the Hogfish, George the Grunt and Homer the Octopus.|
All Historical photographs by Bronson Hartley
|Before Ikelite or Nikonos were even heard of, Hartley Sr. was making his own cameras and underwater housings. He used non-electric pneumatic remote controls using ear syringes, thin tubing, and pistons to activate photography equipment.A pioneer in undersea photography, Bronson Hartley took black and white undersea shots and develop them himself. He even made several 16mm movies one of which, Mainstreet Undersea (Made into Christmas Card).(127kb shot), starred my mother.|
|In 1958, after putting a deck and cabin on a 50 foot liberty launch, he motor-sailed it to Nassau, Bahamas and started an undersea walk there called Hartley's Deep Sea Diving. Click here for page on preparing Carioca for ocean crossing at Turtle Island. The 'deep sea' part was quickly dropped, but the business thrived with the help of Harry the Grouper. In 1982 he handed over the Nassau operation to my elder brother Christopher. Chris conducts the Hartley's Undersea Walk with the help of a grouper who is still called Harry.(24kb shot) For many years Christopher held the record of a year and one day as the youngest helmet diver in the world.|
|In 1984, second born Gregory started a parallel operation in Somerset on the western end of Bermuda. Carioca still operates in Flatts village. Bronson Hartley, with 69 years of diving experience, has retired to the Florida Keys. At the Beneath the Sea trade show in White Plains, New York, several rough, tough, master-certified divers admitted that their interest in the undersea had been inspired by my father many years previously by way or our undersea walk. There have been articles in many magazines and newspapers over the years acclaiming his ability to train fish in their natural habitat and show ordinary people the extraordinary life undersea. This ability to train fish and the skill in taking people underwater has been passed on to his children, Chris and Greg, by a lifetime of exposure to the undersea environment and the business of conducting the undersea walk.|
|In 1986 the third generation of Hartley's, my son Benjamin, pictured here, took his first undersea walk at age ten months. Soon after, my daughter Sandy Hartley, at the age of fifteen months, claimed the record of the youngest female helmet diver in the world. Sometimes impersonated, but never imitated, The Hartley tradition of conducting superb undersea walk continues. Join us to experience this fascinating adventure.|
|Dove With Hartley Sr. Years Ago & Brought Gang Back|
Dear Mr. Hartley,
I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your "underseaWalk"
I was with the party of eight with John Sole, the man who doved with your father. He always kept talking about it and that was how our trip started. We were talking about it and I said I would love to do that. I have always wanted to snorkel, but since I don't swim that isimpossible.
It was as beautiful as I thought it was going to be. I hope we can go back soon and do it again.
Thank you also for taking such good care of our friend. She was very scared but she is determined to do everything we do.
Again thank you so much for all your attention to our group that day.
What's Underwater Departure Point & Procedures Schedule Prices & Booking F.A.Q. Cruise To Bermuda Transportation History Testimonials Boat Info Undersea Poetry Bermuda Maps Links Invertebrates PRINT, FILL OUT AND BRING THIS FORM