The Oceans cover more than 70% of the surface of the earth, it is estimated that around 91% of ocean species have yet to be classified and that more than 80% of the oceans remain unexplored! Diving provides us with a unique, albeit relatively small, insight into this liquid realm and enables us to observe some of the creatures and their habitats that exist beneath the surface.
I first 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 been fortunate to log dives in some incredible locations around the world, I have also gained a lot of experience by qualifying as an Advanced Instructor and by working as a commercial diver.
As a marine biologist I value SCUBA 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 to obtain images for photojournalism publications.
I enjoy all sorts of diving; shore, boat, wreck, reefs, walls, caves and open ocean. I have dived in some phenomenal locations and if I am pressed to name my ‘favourite’ I would say Palau. Recently however I have spent most of my time diving around Scotland. There are plenty of little-known sites which my buddy and I have to ourselves about 99.9% of the time! The habitats are varied with plenty of life, macrophotography in particular is superb here.
In fact it was whilst living in North East Scotland that I first became aware of the first post war sport diving club in the UK; The Amphibians Club, formed by SCUBA pioneer Ivor Howitt and his friends in 1948. The AC is a fascinating story and you can find out more here: http://www.amphibiansclub.co.uk/
Freediving is also a great way to explore the underwater world with a much reduced kit list! I often explore a new area by freediving the location first, this allows me to check out the habitat and carry out an initial survey prior to a more in depth exploration on SCUBA. 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!).