ANDREW RAAK

ANDREW RAAK

ANDREW RAAK

Scuba Diver, Underwater Photographer, Marine Educator 

Lahaina, Hawaii and Murrells Inlet, S.C.

Passionate about all aspects of the marine environment, Andrew has worked as a dive professional for more than a decade. He has a degree in Marine Science, a captain’s license and dive instructor certification. He has traveled the world photographing in amazing locations. Andrew has had a multi-faceted career, working on super yachts, at dive resorts in the Carolinas and Indonesia, and at a nonprofit researching humpback whales in Hawaii. His images have been published in Scuba Diving and Blue Water magazines.

WHY I LOVE THE OCEAN:

My favorite part about diving is the uncertainty of what I’ll see. I am anything but a “Checklist Diver” — one who dives a site once, and then never has interest in diving there again. I’ve dived sites dozens of times and with each occurrence I find something new and unusual. The ocean is an ever-changing environment — it’s an impossibility to become bored. As a Marine Science graduate at Coastal Carolina University, I grew to understand the aquatic world from a scientific perspective. Equipped with the facts about humans’ influence in the natural world, I found it imperative to include scientific knowledge into dive education.  Scuba diving is important for society; scuba divers grasp the real-world problems of pollution in our oceans and see the impact in real time. With such a small portion of the global population actually able to see the underwater world, it’s important to push people to explore the ocean, so that more can understand what is happening to our world’s oceans.  

HOW I STARTED SCUBA DIVING:

I was certified, with my brothers, when I was 12 years old in the cool waters of Dutch Springs Dive Quarry in Pennsylvania. I have always had a passion for the ocean — even in elementary school I wanted to become a marine biologist. It was only natural for my parents to encourage me to become scuba certified. I was fortunate to dive tropical reefs as a teenager in places like Roatan, Key Largo and the Bahamas, which solidified my love for the ocean.

WHO I ADMIRE:

Besides giving a tremendous amount of gratitude to my parents in getting me started, I’d have to say my dive instructors. Throughout my journey in becoming who I am today, I wouldn’t have become so passionate if my instructors were not also as passionate. Numerous instructors have passed along their knowledge to me as I gained additional certifications. Dive instructors should change their titles to “Life Changers” due to the impact they have on their students. We as instructors must continue to inspire the future generation of divers to care for the underwater world and spark excitement in every diver we take beneath the surface.

WHEN I’M NOT DIVING:

Most everything I do involves the water. I am a Career Captain and PADI Dive Instructor, so most days I’m on the water. However, when I have a day off I love to hit the waves to surf or gear up with my underwater camera and do some photography. I’m a huge fan of macro critters such as nudibranchs, which doesn’t interest every diver. So on a day off I might spend an hour exploring just a tiny portion of the reef looking for macro subjects to photograph.

MY FAVORITE CRESSI GEAR:

Right now, my favorite piece of gear is the new Lightwing BC. I basically live out of three bags since I’m always traveling, so considering space and weight is a must for me. With a BCD that takes up only a fraction of space in my bag, and weighing in at under 2 kgs, I know I’ll never have to pay for overweight baggage!

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CRESSI OCEAN AMBASSADOR:

The primary reason I am a huge fan of Cressi is Tom Kurras and Pete Girolamo. When it comes to dive gear there are a lot of superficial likes and dislikes customers have, and if you spend enough money almost any dive company will give you a good product. The people behind the products make all the difference to me. From the earliest time working as a dive professional in the industry, Tom was always kind enough to speak to me and discuss products (even though ultimately my boss would decide what and how many products to place in the next order). Then as Pete took over as our local Cressi rep, the support he has given me has been unmatched. There is not another company that comes in the shop’s doors that pays attention to our staff the way Tom and Pete have over the years. I feel other sales reps think they are wasting their time by chatting with our newest divemasters or our shop’s customer service agents (some of whom aren’t even dive certified). Other dive manufacturer reps just want to put an order form in with the boss.  So while knowing Cressi has solid products is nice, the support and service behind the Cressi products is why I am proud to be a Cressi Ambassador.

FIND ME:

raakbottomimaging.com; youtube.com/c/RaakBottomImaging; instagram.com/raakbottomimaging; facebook.com/RaakBottomImaging

Patricia Wuest

Maitland, Florida, USA Dive Magazine Journalist, Scuba Gear Tester, Ocean Conservationist. As the editor- in- chief of Scuba Diving and Sport Diver magazines, Patricia has had a 25- year career in dive...

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