You landed on the BIO page for Larry Davis.
My BIO takes place from the first day I began diving and all things related in between then and now.
My experience started at conception. It wasn’t until 1976, while on vacation there was a gentleman in the pool at the hotel we were staying in Orlando Fl using Scuba. I approached the man from the edge of the pool and asked “What is that?” “Scuba” he replied. “Would you like to try it?” I jumped into the pool and he explained the regulator and what I was suppose to do. I then proceed to the bottom of the pool, maybe 2-3 feet. I was breathing underwater. Something inside me told me this is where I belong. This is a place I must be, under the water. After what seemed like forever, I handed him back his regulator and thanked him. I remember running up to my father, who was basking in the Florida sun and told him that I will learn to dive and find the Lockness Monster.
Working after school for almost a year, I was able to save up enough money to earn my Open Water Certification and to head to New York City to buy all the gear I needed to begin diving. I was certified by John Briggs in 1977. I dove in Wappingers Falls creek, Sylvan Lake, Water Retention Ponds, Hudson River, Off the shores of Rhode Island (In December), then some of the springs in Florida. The one spring I remember is Ginnie Springs. Back then it was not like it is today. Long walks down dirt roads and the entry to the cavern was covered with growth. If you didn’t know the hole was there, you didn’t know the hole was there..
Back then, pressure gauges were not too common. I did not have one. I depended on that ole’ J-Valve. You know, the one that when your pressure reached about 300lbs, taking that next breath and having only 1/2 a breath being delivered, the remaining half was very tough to inhale. You would pull down on this long rod, which ran along side of the tank that would allow for the unrestricted flow of air that remained in your tank. It was the way to tell you you are almost out of air and had to surface.
One Christmas, around 1978 I received a pressure/depth gauge console. I literally cried.. I could have been given a million dollars yet this gauge meant more to me than anything in the world. I just departed with that pressure gauge October 2020.
I was a diving fool. I would dive every place and every time I could. Rivers, Lakes, Streams and the Altantic Ocean. I loved it, I was hooked and I could not get enough of it. I quit playing football to take up diving full time. Then in 1982, I joined the U.S. Navy and in the 4.5 years I served, I did not dive. I was either in a school or on a ship. I got out of the service in 1986 and still no diving until I reached the 90’s. Diving here and there, when I could, where I could was still in my heart.
But my diving really took off in 2001. I needed to desperately find something to keep me occupied in the evenings. Living in Dallas, Texas at this time I located a dive shop not far from where I lived and began taking classes… Advanced Open Water, Rescue, CPR, then earning my Master Diver certification in Belize and finally in 2002 I made it to Divemaster. This occurred in about 1.5 year time span. I left Dallas, Texas in 2004 and moved to New York for about 6 months before landing in Florida.
Moving to Florida was a divers dream. I lived only 11 miles from the ocean. There were a number of boat operators, both private and commercial. I found a great one… Sea Beast with Captain Bill Newman. I must have made around 80 dives off Jacksonville one summer alone using Captain Bill. I was so hooked I could not stop. Weekend after weekend I was diving, exploring, absorbing the life, the wrecks and more.
The group I was diving with decided to go dive the USS Oriskany which was just placed off Pensacola as an artificial reef May 17, 2006. The dive team spoke with Capt Bill to use his boat and do some private dives on the Oriskany. Two weeks after we discussed going, I get a phone call.. Capt Bill Newman has passed away September 30, 2006, during a scuba diving expedition offshore Vilano Beach, Florida. I was shocked, hurt and sadden by the loss of a friend and one of the best captains I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. No one could put you on the numbers, ask “You all interested in diving next weekend” and meet us at the crack of dawn at the marina to load the boat and head off shore for a day of fantastic diving. “Bill, I love and miss you tremendously. I know you have located and marked the best spots for when we meet again.”
Then the following year, I loose another friend, diving and the year after that, another friend, while diving. I was getting tired of going to funerals, I was getting tired of burying my friends. This didn’t turn me off of the love for the sport. All their deaths were accidental and from what I understand, was Diver Error. The sport is safe, as safe as one can make it. It was complacency, in my opinion that caused their deaths and all one can do is learn by the mistakes of others so not to repeat them.
This did not end the deaths I would experience. As of today, I lost more dive buddies than I care to mention, but know I miss and think of them often.
I am still diving, moving onto bigger and better thrills. Around 2007 I was introduced to a group known for the scientific monitoring of the artificial reefs off Jacksonville. The group is known as the Jacksonville Reef Research Team, JRRT. I joined the group, went through a year of training, learning scientific methods to monitor reefs and the life that surrounds them. I passed the tests and became certified as an Artificial Reef Research Diver. Certified in the practice on monitoring reefs, using scientific methods that provide for accurate and consistent data. Well, except for one exam, Fish ID… Though I have gotten better with identifying the sea life, after three attempts, I’ve never really tried again.
After a year I was nominated and accepted the position of Diver Safety Officer. I Held this position for about 2 years when I relinquished it providing newer members the opportunity to gain the experience. During this time I also became a PADI Scuba Instructor and began assisting the JRRT training officer in educating new members, providing advanced open water training and support where needed.
In 2010 I met Joe Kistel during one of the JRRT meetings. He was interested in starting an organization that placed artificial reefs. He eventually formed TISIRI and I became their Productions Manager, filming, training and IT Specialist. TISIRI is commissioned for the placement of artificial reefs offshore and JRRT is commissioned to monitor artificial reefs. What a great combination, the best of both worlds. What a life!
During this same time period I made the decision to begin filming underwater using High Definition Cameras. Traveling the world I would film on various subjects but became particularly fond of filming sharks. I will confess, the first time I began diving with sharks, out in the wild in the territory of Cal Sal Banks in the Bahamas, I was thrilled and in awe with the abundance and variety of sharks I was in company with. Like a cornucopia of soup.. I was happy, very happy. Big Hole was my favorite Blue Hole in Cay Sal Banks to find sharks but each time I went to visit Big Hole, the number of sharks present was fewer and fewer and on my last trip maybe 5-8 sharks total..
I began wondering, why, where are they, where did they go, why did they leave? I have no answer but I felt like I lost a big part of my family, my friends, were gone.
About 2011 time frame I decided to move to underwater photography as well.. Now I shoot both, when needed. Shooting on personal trips as well as filming the making of artificial reefs. Filming from the first meeting and all through the process up to and including the placement of the material on the sea bed. Once placed, there usually is a dive immediately following to report on the materials placement, profile, orientation, etc.. All of this filming and pictures end up in the archives within the State, City and various organizations and universities.
I have advanced to the level of PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. On the side, I teach photography, underwater filming and photography and a bit of editing (which I do not like the editing because it’s too time consuming and it’s much more fun to dive and take the shots!!). Being a Master Scuba Diver Instructor, I am certified to teach the gamut of course offerings.
I have honorable mentions in a number of published books and numerous magazine articles. My pictures have made it on CCN, MSNBC, Discovery Channel and more. I have made friends in all fields, such as in the movie industry to well know cinematographers, divers, research and more. I frequently hear “I know you from somewhere” and I joke “The Post Office? or Milk Cartons?”. I have searched for lost souls, my most memorable being Caylee Anthony.
Lastly, I have been honored by Instructors and Professional Students stating “Larry is the best Instructor I know.” I don’t think I am the best. I’ve witnessed some great teachers and would like to think I am simply in the company of some of the best people I have come to meet, with many more in my future.
There are reef clean ups as well. This is where we dive a site or two and remove debris left behind by the hand of man. Lead fishing weights, monofilament, derelict nets (ghost nets), trash, basically anything that could be harmful to native species.
I also volunteered as a rapid response diver. Our duty was to backup divers searching for lost souls. We were there to relieve divers so the search may continue. The most memorable was when I was called and searched for little Caylee Anthony in the Little Econ River, Orlando Fl.
When lionfish became a heavy topic in Florida, I found myself working with scientist from a number of universities. Having the knowledge and experience of methods used in scientific collection of data, to include capture (both live and not) I worked heavily in filming and harvesting lionfish. I worked hard at getting divers interested and active in the hunt and kept dive boats busy. I co-sponsored Jacksonville’s first three lionfish rodeos, which on each successive years broke state records for the most lionfish harvested in one day. One team (2 divers) harvested over 1600 lionfish in one day. Amazing.
It is now 2014 and I thought I would update some of the activities and accomplishments.
May name has made it to a third book as well as some of my photographs. In fact, my underwater images have been placed in two books. I’m happy.
I also have been traveling more often, reaching destinations like Indonesia, Maldives, Socorro(MX), and the Philippines. So far I’ve made two trips to the Philippines over a 3 month period, spending a total of 5 weeks. I embark to Indonesia usually for 3 weeks to travel and capture images on film, both above and below the water line.
My editing of photos has improved tremendously and I discovered a few things. How to make great underwater photos and to spend more time in editing out the little things, like small particles that make it into the picture, or making the colors pop just right that have the pictures appearing more realistic in color. Shooting underwater requires artificial light. The sunlight does not penetrate too well through water, but mostly the colors that make light white are lost. Beginning with Red at about 15 feet and ending near the blue end of the spectrum at 100’s of feet. Having the flash or strobe helps introduce light at depth bringing back the color and helping with the camera exposure.
I have the pleasure to be accepted and volunteer time with Safe Harbor Boys Home, now Safe Harbor Maritime Academy for boys in Jacksonville, Fl.
The Hallmark Channel produced a movie on about the home and how Dr.’s Doug and Robbie Smith became involved in its creation. My role is as a dive instructor. Usually once a year, the new candidates arrive and when qualified, are offered the opportunity to become certified. in 2013 I conducted an Open Water course for about 12 of the boys. Upon my return home after a weekend of diving with them, I find a envelope sent by Safe Harbor and in the envelope are a number of hand written notes. Below are just a few of them sent by my students.
In March 2014 I just finished conducting a Nitrox course, with two students. What amazed me, when asked if I would certify the two is the two gentlemen are long time divers. From the 60’s to the present, still diving. They were either involved with exploring, mapping the cave systems of Florida, naming many of the discoveries divers today refer to and/or artificial reef placement. It was all experimental back then, which is why we do what we do today, as far as cave diving safety or methods of placement and monitoring. They are the unknowns in the industry, except in small circles of divers. Their names were not announced, published like they are today. There was no internet, facebook, instagram and more back then. Just word of mouth and small flyers. A few weeks after concluding the nitrox course, I receive an email from one of the students. At the bottom of the email, he wrote:
“Larry, your style, as an instructor and diving friend, is what the world of diving needs more of. Don’t change anything. You make people around you feel naturally at ease and they easily appreciate you and what you have to share about diving knowledge. You’ve found the secret…just being a naturally good person…not an crushing ego-king, who is superior to all, in the diving arena. Keep up the good work and the great influence on those around you! It’s clear you have fun with your diving and enjoy sharing that fun with others. That is perfection in diving, to me. Salute.”
It tells me I’m doing something right, when it comes from such a seasoned diver.
It is mid 2017 and time to update this BIO. Between the last update, 2014 and mid 2017 I do not recall anything I would consider spectacular happening in my life. Maybe one thing, the placement of a second memorial reef in a permitted area off the NE Florida coast known as Floyds Folly (NW corner). To date we place a 1 ton status of Christ and look to placing a head stone in honor of the reef names John Leone Memorial Reef. I have traveled more as well, just returning from Cuba and ready to head to Indonesia for 3 more fantastic weeks of diving and filming.
It is now 2021… During the 2019 year, I traveled quite a bit. Spending a minimum of 4-5 weeks somewhere or some region of the planet, diving, exploring and taking photos. The world is getting smaller, and I more experienced with the people and cultures from around the world. My last major trip for 2019 ended in November. Then 2020 arrived… I had travel plans for overseas when COVID hit the world. A trickle in January, then February it got worse and from there everything went downhill. World Govt. stopped almost all travel. Country denying entry for fear of spreading the cotangent. All my travel, reservations, flights were cancelled. I was stuck in the states. 2020 will be remembered as the year the world stood still. There is nothing to add for 2020.
2021 has arrived. It is just 8 days into the new year. COVID restrictions are still in place. Some countries are allowing entry but many of the places I prefer to go are still in lock down. President Donald Trump will be replaced by the incoming Joe Biden come January 20, 2021. Let’s see how 2021 plays out.
Feel free to contact me should you have any need or questions.