A West Richland man known for his underwater diving and photography has been reported missing off the coast of British Columbia.
Ken Gatherum was diving Sunday at Mizuno Point in Nootka Sound, photographing the region’s gorgonian corals, when he never surfaced, according to information from the Marker Buoy Dive Club. The Canadian Coast Guard is reportedly still conducting a search operation.
“Ken was an active club member, an avid underwater photographer and frequent contributor to the Buoy Tender,” said Mark Wilson, club president, in an email. “We can all hope for a positive outcome but that seems very unlikely at this point.”
Gatherum, a former U.S. Navy photographer, learned to scuba dive while stationed on Guam in 1965. He dove recreationally and professionally — taking photos for Battelle’s marine research lab in Sequim — until 2000 when work began taking up more of his time.
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But Gatherum revisited his interest in diving and photography after retiring from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2012. He swam with whale sharks and sea lions in Mexico in January 2014, knocking those experiences off a “bucket list” of diving accomplishments.
He also dived locally, participating in the annual Polar Bear Dive of the Atomic Ducks Dive Club at Columbia Point Marina in Richland in January 2013. Gatherum took photos during the dive but also helped other divers clear trash from the Columbia River.