Spectacular Underwater Adventures: A Dream Come True
As a young boy growing up in Texas, retired U.S. Army Colonel Paul Gause used to dream about one day getting to do what actor Lloyd Bridges did on the television show “Sea Hunt”: experience underwater adventures. The series, which aired 1958-1961, starred a young Bridges as a former Navy frogman and freelance scuba diver.
“I would sit and watch that show as a child and fantasize about getting to one day explore that unbelievable world,” said Paul from the comfort of his home at The Hill at Whitemarsh. “It wasn’t just the marine life; it was also the tropical environments, the white sand beaches, and the crystal-clear blue water. I just loved it!”
Paul’s underwater dreams were put on hold, however, when he began his career in 1989 as a reservist in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He mobilized for both Desert Shield and Desert Storm, where he worked in the burn unit helping soldiers who had been badly injured in combat. When he returned stateside, he went back to reserve duty and in 1997, Paul finally started the process of bringing his childhood dream to life when he enrolled in a course just outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to become a certified scuba diver.
“It wasn’t very exotic,” he said with a laugh. “I learned to scuba dive in the quarries of Pennsylvania, just outside Lancaster. A friend had taken the course and recommended it to me. I did most of my diving in a pool to get certified.”
Although he was apprehensive on his first salt water dive, just a few months after getting his certification, Paul jumped into the water anyway, and it changed his life. In the years since, he has come a long way from diving in the quarries. He’s done wreck dives off the coasts of New Jersey, North Carolina, and Florida, but he prefers to dive in the Caribbean.
“It is incredible–the feeling of being suspended in the water, being able to see all the fish swimming around me, and the clear visibility to the bottom of the ocean floor. There’s always something to discover beyond the next reef, including what new marine life will appear.”
It was clear that Paul was hooked, and he continued to dive as much as he could while also balancing his military career and his relationship with his wife, Karen, whom he wed in 2005. Paul had the opportunity to help train amputees as scuba divers at Walter Reed while on active duty and even got to dive in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Whether diving for personal or professional reasons, Paul has never lost his sense of wonder surrounding each underwater experience. He’s found every new dive to be completely unique and interesting.
“The variety adds to the adventure!” he said. “I was on a dive where the dive masters were spearing lionfish, and a swarm of sharks came when they smelled the blood. I’ve seen turtles, stingrays, barracudas, and eels. And for the past decade or so, I’ve gotten serious about underwater photography.”
Paul would bring an underwater camera on dives with him from time to time, but he became more serious about the pursuit in 2010, when there were more technological advancements to the practicality of underwater photography. He decided to take a course and reached out to Cathy Church, a pioneer in underwater photography, who invited him to study with her and her staff in her studio in the Cayman Islands.
“There’s always something to discover beyond the next reef, including what new marine life will appear.”
– COL Paul Gause
“By then, I already had a timeshare in Grand Cayman, and I was going several times a year to dive. The Cayman Islands are known for being a world-class destination for scuba diving, and Karen and I really love it there.”
Although Karen admits that she briefly toyed with the idea of getting certified to scuba dive, she ultimately decided that it wasn’t for her.
“I wanted to surprise him, but it was pretty daunting for me, so I got into snorkeling instead, and I am very happy with it!” Karen said.
Together, the two of them have traveled all over the Caribbean, including Curaçao, which is a World Heritage site; Honduras; and St. Lucia. Paul retired from the military in 2012, and in 2021, he and Karen decided that it was time to leave their home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, for The Hill at Whitemarsh.
“We were both ready to downsize, and The Hill could not be a more perfect place for us–the lifestyle, the ambiance, and the peace of mind for our families,” said Paul. “We’re living in a place we really love and get to pursue the things we love. What could be better?”
There is only one thing: the short drive from The Hill to the airport in Philadelphia, where the Gauses can catch a quick flight to their home in the Cayman Islands.