Say hello to today’s featured diver, Veerle Roelandt from Belgium. Diving since 1996, Veerle is a passionate shark conservationist who loves the thrill of being in the water with sharks of all shapes and sizes.
Full Name: Veerle Roelandt
Live In: Belgium
Working For: Responsible for the bakery department in a supermarket, volunteer work for several shark conservation organizations
Diver Qualifications: Instructor
When and where did you start diving?
1996 in Mallorca
Why did you start diving?
Our 5 year old son loved the kids club in the hotel soo much, he just wanted to go there every single day, so my husband and I needed something to pass time and since the diving school was just besides the kids club we found the perfect solution
What made you choose to become a dive professional? (if applicable)
Back home we joined a dive club and automatically we started going for a higher level, and ended up as instructors
Which is your favourite dive site and why?
Well actually I have 3 : Dirty Rock and Alcyone on Cocos Island (Costa Rica) and Rocca Partida on Socorro Islands (Mexico)
What has been the most memorable dive of your life and why?
As a real shark geek I tend to remember all dives where I saw a type of shark for the first time : Thresher shark on Little Brother, Galapogos, walls of hammerheads, tigersharks, hunting white tips at night, … on Cocos Island but I will never ever forget that one dive in Egypt (Habili Ali) where that hunting silvertip shark all of a sudden appeared from on top of the reef chasing his/her lunch soo close I could count each and every tooth
If you would come back as a marine life form in your next life, what would that be?
Definitely a shark
Who is your dream dive buddy?
My husband and son
What dive locations are on your dream “bucket list” and why?
There are soo many : Palau for the mantas and sharks, The Azores for blue sharks, Malpello for the schools of silkies, Sardine run in South Africa for all sharks, dolphins, whales etc. that this attracts, … and every other single spot in the ocean that brings sharks, whales, mantas etc.
What is on your bedside table right now?
A book written by a friend of mine : XOC, The White Shark Murders by Michael West and of course my MP3-player. I never go to sleep without listening to music first.
What is your favorite piece of diving equipment and why?
My regulator, since I miss a part of one lung, I am not allowed to free dive or descend while snorkeling, so that regulator is my only way to enter the ocean
If you were to launch a campaign to raise awareness on a specific issue that affects divers, the oceans or marine life, what issue would you target and why?
Sharks and rays without any doubt : the overfishing has pushed these magnificent creatures into such a catastrophic position that we can no longer close our eyes, extinction is NOT an option !
Where will you be in 10 years and what will you be doing?
Hopefully still diving, enjoying the ocean and doing my utmost to save those oceans.