Descending: Diving into the deep with Scott Wilson

Travel Channel’s new dive travelogue begins today. we catch up with the show’s presenter ahead of the series for a chat about what's beneath the earth's murky waters

We know more about the moon’s surface than we do about what lurks beneath the sea. Diver Scott Wilson has made it his life’s mission to uncover as much as he can from the depths of the ocean and he will co-host Travel Channel’s newest show – Descending (9pm, Thursdays, on Travel Channel) tonight.


Watch as an expert dive team travels to all seven continents and stops at places such as the paradise waters of the Caribbean and Solomon Islands, plus harsher environments including chilly Iceland and Antarctica, restricted North Korea and pre-revolution Libya. They come face-to-face with the ocean’s largest carnivores, sunken historical artefacts and more weird and wonderful marine life than you can shake a sea cucumber at.

Wilson reveals more…

What did you set out to achieve with your new show Descending?

To explore the 70 per cent of our planet, which is underwater, and to explain that we are all able to explore unchartered places as average people. We live in a day and age where this is at our fingertips. Swimming underwater is not science fiction like it would have been 100 years ago. Descending is not like a BBC documentary, which is smooth and has silky cinematography with a narrative voice over it; we want to show the viewer that if we can do it, they can do it too. We’re not setting records; we’re just exploring a good portion of the world that people often overlook.

Are you going to reveal the ups and downs of diving as well?

Yes. There were highs and lows filming the series, when you’re underwater things can go wrong. We didn’t want to show that were being cowboys, we certainly weren’t, but when you’re diving with sea creatures they can be unpredictable. It’s a world that we as humans are not used to, and sooner or later things that you don’t expect happen.

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What kinds of mishaps did you experience during the show?

When were in South Africa filming sharks nobody got bitten or eaten, ironically it wasn’t the black fish and tiger sharks that were dangerous – it was the shipwreck we were near. The sea swell, and the way the water was moving over the top of the shipwreck, created a vortex. Our cameraman got caught in an updraft, it was like he was being sucked up by a straw, he was nearly at the surface before he could grab onto something. In diving, surfacing really fast can bring problems like bubbles in the bloodstream. We got to the surface, put him on oxygen and monitored him. In this instance, he was lucky and able to grab onto the wreck at the 30-foot mark, which saved him.

Meanwhile, in Iceland, the other host’s gear froze up from diving in one-degree water. The gear, although designed for these conditions, can freeze up. When the gear freezes, the air tank empties very quickly. That’s another instance where when things go wrong, you try to do your best based on the training to save your life.

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We heard that you also had a plane crash while filming the show, now that’s extreme diving, or should we say driving…

Yes. In Asia I was flying in a floatplane to one of the islands and we were pretty close to the water. We flew over the top of some manatees so the pilot and I could get a closer look at them. We flew to the water’s surface and he cranked the plane over when we saw them and stalled the aircraft. We plummeted straight down into the ocean. I had no idea what had happened. I thought he was just trying to scare the newbie. It wasn’t until a split second before we hit the water that I realised we were going to crash. The next thing I know, we’re in the water and I’m trying to get out of my harness to avoid being sucked down with the rest of the wreckage. I managed to swim to the surface. We found a pontoon that had broken away from the plane and waited to be rescued. These are the ups and downs of filming a show internationally.

Where were your favourite dive destinations from Descending?

In Iceland we dived between two tectonic plates, which some bizarre creatures call home, and we could feel heat coming from the earth. Diving in Indonesia was also great, particularly the Solomon islands. We were on a mission to find wrecks from the Second World War. I’m a pilot and an aviation enthusiast, so diving on preserved and untouched plane wrecks was a mindblower for me. 

Recent reports say that space travel is not far off, and the public is already keen to sign up for trips to Mars, but there’s a lot more to discover on our planet, isn’t there?

Absolutely. We’re in such a hurry to discover Mars, the moon and discover new life. We don’t even know what’s here yet, so what’s the rush? Although it’s getting harder and harder to discover somewhere that nobody else has been on the earth’s surface, underwater, it’s easy to get that thrill and adventure of seeing something for the very first time. When you go underwater and you come across a cuttlefish or an octopus – it’s such a foreign world. Right now it’s as close as you will get to being able to space travel or go to another planet.

Watch Descending every Thursday at 9pm on Travel Channel.


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