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LARISSA ORMONDE 

Dive Master--National Park Service, Ventura

NEW TIMES When did you discover your passion for diving?

ORMONDE I started diving when I was 13, and I’ve been diving for 11 years. My stepdad was an instructor for the Army, so he taught me diving in Morro Bay.

 

NEW TIMES What are some cool places you have dived?

ORMONDE Guadalupe Island in Mexico, I was diving with white sharks. I also enjoyed the vibrant rock fish I saw while diving in Big Sur.

 

NEW TIMES Have you ever found yourself in a precarious position while diving?

ORMONDE I’ve had a few. I was diving with white sharks in Mexico, and we were chumming while underwater. Chumming is illegal at Guadalupe and regulations are enforced by the questionable Mexican Navy. I was about 40 feet down when I looked up and saw a panga boat from the Mexican Navy coming toward our boat. At that point, I jettisoned the bait bag and started bringing the shark cage back up to the surface as directed. As I was about to surface, one of the passengers in the cage tapped me on the shoulder and handed me back the bag of bait that he had retrieved. At this time the sharks were swarming and I thought I was going to die. I surfaced to the barrel of a gun held by a Mexican Navy dude, pointed down at me. I was like “Hola, como estas?” And I waited until the captain paid him off.

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