Cambridge Dive Center plunges into the world of underwater film – CambridgeToday

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Pegasus Dive Center specializes in film production and safety and a variety of scuba diving courses

Jason McLoughlin is no stranger to exploring the ocean at great depths.

With a camera gifted to him by Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of legendary oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, McLoughlin works full-time job is as an underwater cinematographer, a job that has taken him to many different parts of the world.  

But for the co-founder of Pegasus Dive Center in Cambridge, his love for the open water came later in life.

“There are many people who have a fear of water. And to be honest, I was once in the same boat. When I was a kid, a big muskie bit me,” McLoughlin says.

“I was just sitting on a dock, with my feet in the water, and it bit me. After that, I was terrified of being in the water. It was the fear of not knowing what was down there.”

This is why, McLoughlin said people often come to him with the mission to try to overcome that same fear.

“I think a lot of people have a fear of water. But once they try diving and go under water, you see what it’s all about. You can breathe, you can float, and you think, this is so surreal,” he said.

“You see all of the fish interact. There is a whole other world in there. It really is amazing.”

Pegasus Dive Center, certified under the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), specializes in film production and safety and offers a variety of scuba diving courses including beginner, confined water, open water, advanced open water rescue and a diving master course.

Since becoming a dive instructor himself, McLoughlin said he has come into contact with more than just muskie.

“I remember the first time I saw a shark in the ocean. We anchored the boat, and as we were getting ready, there were about 20-40 sharks swimming around. They were huge! We jumped in,” McLoughlin recalled.

“You don’t want to start fluttering around on the surface because that will only attract the sharks. You just want to get in and go down. Once you are below the water line, they just think you are another big fish, and they leave you alone. They are not hunting you. You do have to be cautious, but for most part, they check you out, and swim away. To see a shark, that close and in person, it’s thrilling. That was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”

Pegasus Diving Center, on Jamieson Parkway, offers equipment and service, air fills, rentals, dive charters and underwater imaging.

And for the past 15 years, Pegasus has provided TV and film productions around the world with risk assessments and safety/rescue plans to help keep production crew and cast safe.

Staff at Pegasus have experience in a variety of different backgrounds including the Canadian Armed Forces, police, fire services, search and rescue organizations and the Canadian Coast Guard. They provide consultation to stunt personnel, divers, boat operators, underwater camera operators and professional safety riggers.

“We are filming the third season of Jack Reacher right now and have spent the last few days doing a stunt rehearsal,” McLoughlin said.

Photography, in particular, is something McLoughlin has had an interest in his entire life.

“I was offered a job for a celebrity car rally. It was part of Gene Simmons Family Jewels show. I really loved it. When I came back to Toronto, I got into the film union. I was a rigger and did stunts and camera work,” McLoughlin said.

With his commercial diving certification, McLoughlin noticed a need for underwater camera operators, locally.

“So, we started to provide film productions with safety services for marine units, divers and rope rescue riggers. It just exploded over the years, and now we have Pegasus Safety & Rescue. Productions on Amazon or Netflix send us to locations all over the world to do safety for these film productions,” McLoughlin said.

Since moving from the Toronto area, the training facility has been at its current location in Cambridge four years.

“With the film industry being on strike since May, things are finally getting going in the new year,” McLoughlin said.

“Luckily, with our business, it’s multi-faceted where we do rope rescue training, water rescue training , confined space, and scuba diving. So, with the film industry down, we were able to shift to more training with the Cambridge Fire Departtment. and Guelph Fire Department.”

With its own fleet of boats, Pegasus takes divers on diving charters.

“That includes going to Lake Ontario, Wiarton, and surrounding areas. Locally, there are a few quarries, but the visibility can be poor. When breathing air under water for the first time, throw in the cold water and poor visibility, this builds stress on a diver and can become more challenging, as well as for the instructors who are trying to teach under those circumstances,” McLoughlin said.

Anyone interested can register for a diving course online or visit the business for more information.

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