The Oceans cover around 70% of the earth surface and are home to an estimated 1 million species! Diving provides us with a unique insight into this liquid realm and enables us to explore the creatures and their environment that exist beneath the surface.
I learnt to SCUBA dive in the UK when i was 18 alongside my Undergrad course in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology at Plymouth University. Since then i have logged thousands of dives in countries throughout the world and qualified as a PADI Advanced Instructor. As a marine biologist i value diving as a way to further my understanding of aquatic life, I have dived in order to document specific sharks and their behavioural interactions, to assess the regeneration of habitats within Marine Protected Areas and of course for fun!
I particularly love wreck diving, some of the best shipwrecks i have ever dived were off Oahu, Hawaii. The colonisation of these wrecks and the life they support are incredible. One of the most memorable encounters with a turtle i have had was inside a shipwreck called The Seatiger, it had been used for people smuggling before being impounded by the Hawaiian Government. Anyway, i was exploring inside the wreck until we came to one compartment where a huge Green Turtle was hanging out, i watched it long enough to take a quick pic on my little compact camera at the time and then left it in peace!
For other types of wrecks such as plane wrecks from World War II as well as cave diving, then Palau is phenomenal – coupled with all of the incredible marine life it has to offer, Palau is a diver’s Nirvana! Despite having dived in some pretty far-flung places, my PhD and subsequent work brought me back to the UK. North East Scotland to be precise, and the majority of my dives have been in some reasonably chilly temperatures where a dry suit is a must, i think the coldest water i have dived in has been 4°C although at some point i’ll have to give ice diving a go!
Freediving is also a great way to explore the underwater world with a much reduced kit list! I obtained my PADI freediving qualification out in Cyprus several years ago, it’s important to remember that freediving is very different to snorkelling and i would urge anyone interested in pursuing this to do so with a qualified instructor (same goes for SCUBA of course!).