Area earns top ranks for divers

The Daily News (Jacksonville)February 25, 2013 

The attraction of coastal North Carolina doesn’t stop at the beaches.

With artificial reefs, sunken shipwrecks, a rich maritime history and a variety of marine life, the waters off North Carolina’s coast are a big draw for scuba divers.

“There are a lot of World War II wrecks, Civil Wars wrecks, quite a few artificial reefs. There’s a lot going on off our coast,” said Martha Jenkins, who owns New River Dive Center with her husband, Gary.

They aren’t surprised by North Carolina’s high rankings in the annual Top 100 Readers Choice Award put out by Scuba Diving Magazine.

At their full service shop they see interest in scuba diving from all ages, from the Marines who stop by from nearby Camp Lejeune to the high school students who have done their senior projects on the topic.

Spear fishing and underwater photography are enjoyed as well as diving on the many wreck sites.

“Scuba diving is a big part of North Carolina,” she said.

The Top 100 reader’s poll includes rankings in 11 different categories and by geographic area.

For North America, North Carolina ranks in the top 5 in all but two of the categories. It was ranked No. 1 for best wreck diving, best advanced diving, best big animals, best marine environment and best overall diving, topping locations such as the Florida Keys, California and British Columbia.

For best overall destination, North Carolina was second behind Northern California. The state came in behind Southern California and British Columbia under category of Best Value for Diving Dollar.

In a separate Top 100 Gold List, North Carolina and Carteret County were also recognized by the magazine’s readers.

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