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Diving into the depths

Bennie Berning’s underwater photography provides a fascinating record of his dives. Read more about his unusual hobby...

When he’s not performing auto electrical repairs on cars and trucks at Autolek George, you’ll find Bennie Berning snapping away with his camera. Maybe that doesn’t sound too different from the rest of us – who doesn’t enjoy taking a good selfie every now and then, after all – except that Bennie’s subject matter often involves fish, sea plants, and other underwater wonders.

Bennie explains that he started diving around 20 years ago. Although he lived in Gauteng, he took advantage of the family holidays to KwaZulu-Natal to explore underwater. Now that he lives in the Garden Route, he spends as much time diving as he can.

How did he come to combine this hobby with his other great interest, photography? Bennie explains that he loves sharing pictures and videos of everything he sees underwater with his friends and family because this is second best to having them join him on his diving adventures. As he says, it’s much more fun sharing the experience.

Bennie has explored the waters of Barra in Mozambique, the Aliwal Shoal in KwaZulu-Natal, and Sodwana Bay, and has done some freshwater dives at Miracle Waters in Brits. However, it is the cleanup dives in his hometown he is most passionate about. The diving community is very conscious of humanity’s impact on the ocean and use their time underwater to clean up pollution caused by sinkers, tackle, lines and sinkers lying on the ocean floor.

His favourite dive sites? Anton’s Reef in Sodwana, where the massive schools of fish swimming past are a sheer wonder, and Raggies Cave in Aliwal Shoal – because, he says, coming so close to sharks is an incredible experience.

You can share Bennie’s lens on the underwater world by logging on to the YouTube channel he shares with his friend; check out Jack Hartland to find out more.