Laura Merzetti, salon owner. In her other life: scuba diver.
Laura Merzetti never thought of herself as much of a risk-taker. But that changed one day while on vacation in Cozumel, Mexico. “The resort we were staying at offered free scuba lessons in the pool every day and they happened to catch me at the right time and in the right frame of mind to do it,” says Merzetti, the owner of Scratch My Back Nail Studio in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. “I was thrilled to be able to swim underwater and breathe air from a tank!” Within three months she was a certified Open Water diver. Now, five years later, she’s achieved the level of Rescue Diver (one level below Dive Master) and is Dive Coordinator for her local dive club, the Ajax Scuba Club.
For Merzetti, the thrill comes from entering a completely different underwater world. “I can slip under the surface and within seconds I’m gliding over beautiful coral reefs, very close to exotic fish that most people only ever see in an aquarium. The colors are incredible. It’s peaceful and, most of all, quiet,” she says. In Canada, she does a lot of wreck diving in the Great Lakes. “These are shipwrecks from the 1800s or early 1900s and they can be anything from schooners to paddlewheelers and barges,” she explains. “This is a very different kind of diving — much colder and deeper and very spooky.”
Her most exotic dive took place off the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia in 2009. “I saw many species of fish found only in that area of the world. Wild pods of dolphins accompanied our dive boat one day,” she says. “We also saw many sea turtles who were really friendly and curious. The highlight of my trip was to see the clown anemonefish (think Nemo in ‘Finding Nemo’).
“Diving is a fascinating snapshot of what life is in our lakes, seas, and oceans. It certainly gives you an appreciation and respect for the creatures who live there.”