A blob top jellyfish seen by John Roney. (Provided by John Roney)

A blob top jellyfish seen by John Roney. (Provided by John Roney)

Victoria man films underwater documentary about sea life around Vancouver Island

John Roney expects Under the Emerald Sea to be released in 2021

John Roney has only been nervous shooting his underwater documentary – Beneath the Emerald Sea – a few times. Once when he saw eight giant Pacific octopus while diving off Madrona Point near Nanaimo.

“When an octopus is the size of you – it’s like oh God,” he said.

John Roney has been working on Beneath the Emerald Sea for about a year now and expects it to be released in fall of 2021. (Provided by John Roney)

The Victoria resident, who works as a documentary editor, has been shooting underwater for about three years and he enjoys the added challenge.

Just getting the gear together is “a bit of a task.” Roney uses underwater camera housing that can sustain pressure for dives up to 100 feet and has two “super-powerful” lights attached to allow for clean images.

According to Roney, the biggest challenge for people getting into underwater videography is just keeping the camera stable.

READ ALSO: Sidney aquarium names new octopus after Dr. Bonnie Henry

“Unless you’re perfectly lucky … your shots are always going to be bobbing up and down, especially if there are currents,” he said. Another aspect to think about before going down on a dive is the lens because you can’t swap a lens out while underwater.

“If you want to film something tiny and you’ve got a telephoto lens or a lens for shooting macro, then you see a sea lion swim past – well that’s just too bad because you’ll maybe get the sea lion’s nose and nothing else.”

Roney has been working on Beneath the Emerald Sea for about a year and goes diving once or twice a week to shoot. The film will highlight marine life surrounding Vancouver Island in an effort to bring awareness to the density of life just below the surface.

Although he doesn’t expect the film to be released until fall 2021, he said the longer he works on it, the more people want to get involved – especially those in the diving community.

READ ALSO: Scuba scientists help save endangered marine life off Vancouver Island

“In today’s day and age, it feels like we’ve found everything there is to explore … every dive, I find something new and totally bizarre,” he said.

One of the most interesting sea creatures Roney has documented is the blob top jellyfish, which he describes as looking like something you’d see in outer space and not the waters off Vancouver Island.

A wolf eel seen by John Roney. (Provided by John Roney)

“When I saw this thing, it was about the length of my thumb – maybe not even – and it literally looks like a brain floating inside a jellyfish,” he said, adding that another favourite to see is the wolf eel.

“It’s this big, ugly – what I would describe as an old man Muppet – that’s about six feet long,” he said. “They’re actually super friendly because they’ll stay in one den for years and become familiar with divers.”

To stay up to date on Beneath the Emerald Sea visit MahoneyDives on YouTube.


 

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A still taken from Beneath the Emerald Sea, a documentary highlighting marine life in the waters surrounding Vancouver Island. (Provided by John Roney)

A still taken from Beneath the Emerald Sea, a documentary highlighting marine life in the waters surrounding Vancouver Island. (Provided by John Roney)