National Outdoor Book Award, History/Biography Category
"Journalist Hauserman does justice to the remarkable life of an explorer dubbed 'Florida’s Jacques Cousteau.' . . . Hauserman, who knew her subject personally, more than makes the case that Skiles’s innovation and daring added significantly to the understanding of a variety of aquatic worlds, and to the human impact on them."—Publishers Weekly
"Quoting Skiles’ friends and his own writings, biographer Hauserman portrays him as a likable family man driven by his love of diving, and she recounts many of his fantastic, often-dangerous adventures. In addition to meeting a compelling character, readers learn about the cutting-edge work of cave divers, oceanographers, and environmental scientists against a backdrop of government regulatory inaction."—Booklist
“An intriguing, thought-provoking, and well-written book. . . . Hauserman successfully highlights [Skiles’] varied accomplishments and numerous contributions to exploration, education, and environmental awareness.”—The Underground Movement
"It's easy to believe that humans evolved from the sea when you meet Wes Skiles. He was more at home underwater than above. Hold your breath as you read Julie Hauserman's wonderful tale of a most unusual man. And remember, this tale is true."—Bill Kurtis, announcer, Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!
"In this beautifully written, funny, moving biography, Hauserman takes readers on Wes Skiles's extraordinary adventures under the water and on terra firma as he fought to document and save the wild places he loved. This is a magical book about a man who lived every day loving his art, his family, and the blue ball of planet Earth."—Diane Roberts, author of Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters, Banana Republicans, and Other Florida Wildlife
"Wes Skiles's photos and films are an inspiration to all of those who love nature—especially Florida's hidden watery world. People of his passion and determination are, and always have been, a rare breed. Hauserman has successfully captured the essence of Skiles in this long-awaited biography."—Michael Wisenbaker, archaeology supervisor, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research
"Paints a picture of a soul driven to document the natural phenomena of this world and to share it with others for the betterment of planet Earth and its people. It will inspire and make you think."—Shannon Switzer Swanson, National Geographic Explorer
Dan's Cave looks like the entrance to the underworld. Two divers swim along a luminous blue-green passage, flashlights cutting through the water, a dark mass of stalactites suspended overhead. This is the breathtaking National Geographic cover photo taken by Wes Skiles (1958–2010), a top nature photographer who died in a diving accident before the issue was published.
Drawn to the Deep celebrates the life of an extraordinary adventurer who braved extreme danger to share the hidden beauty and environmental truths of the planet with others. Skiles felt a pull to the water as a child, captivated by the cobalt springs of Florida. His passion for diving and his innovative camera techniques earned him assignments with National Geographic and Outside. He also took part in creating over a hundred films, many of which won international awards and acclaim.
Skiles was a self-taught expert on Florida's freshwater springs and an outspoken advocate for their conservation. He went head to head with scientists and government officials who dismissed his firsthand observations of water movement through the "Swiss-cheese" karst rock of the underground aquifer. But he never gave up on his quest to disprove the prevailing scientific models or to protest what they allowed—the unchecked pumping and depletion of Florida's groundwater.
Through interviews with Skiles's friends and family, along with insights from his own journals, Julie Hauserman describes the escapades and achievements that characterized his life's work. This book is the inspiring story of an explorer and activist who uncovered environmental abuses, advanced the field of underwater photography, and astonished the world with unprecedented views of the secret depths of the planet.
Julie Hauserman, an award-winning journalist, is editor-in-chief of the Florida Phoenix. She is a former national commentator for NPR's Weekend Edition and a former capital bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg Times.
Hauserman, who knew her subject personally, more than makes the case that Skiles’s innovation and daring added significantly to the understanding of a variety of aquatic worlds, and to the human impact on them.
Hauserman portrays [Skiles] as a likable family man driven by his love of diving, and she recounts many of his fantastic, often-dangerous adventures. In addition to meeting a compelling character, readers learn about the cutting-edge work of cave divers, oceanographers, and environmental scientists against a backdrop of government regulatory inaction.