Say hello to to today’s featured diver, our good friend, contributor to The Scuba News and co-founder of Friends for Sharks, Kathryn Hodgson. Friends for Sharks is a conservation initiative which aims to raise the plight of sharks and rays around the world.
Full Name: Kathryn Hodgson
Live In: Currently a citizen of the world as I am travelling to many countries in 2015 but home would be Cornwall, England.
Working For: Friends for Sharks
Diver Qualifications: PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor
When and where did you start diving?
I started in October 2010 at Dosthill Quarry in England. It was a wee bit chilly and murky!
Why did you start diving?
I started to overcome my crippling fear of breathing underwater, as it had reached a point where it was limiting me from pursuing my dream of working with sharks and marine conservation. At the time I began my Open Water course I couldn’t even get my head underwater without crying and having a panic attack. The only thing that made me finish that course was my promise to myself that I would then be able to dive with tiger sharks.
What made you choose to become a dive professional? (if applicable)
I chose to become an instructor because I wanted to help others overcome their own hurdles and fears in life, in order to find the joy of scuba diving and being under the ocean. I knew that by being compassionate and having battled my own demons I would be able to help others achieve their dreams. I also wanted to finally overcome my fear of removing my mask underwater and lay that ghost to rest once and for all, which I am proud to say I did!
Which is your favourite dive site and why?
Any site with a shark! My absolute favourite is a small dive site outside of Simon’s Town in South Africa. It is peaceful, accessible from the shore and is also home to a number of Sevengill cowsharks and Pyjama sharks that live amongst the kelp forest. It is absolutely magical to watch the cowsharks cruise past slowly whilst Pyjama sharks wriggle their way amongst the boulders. Their striped ‘pyjama-esque’ markings are a giveaway even when they are trying to hide! I cannot think of anywhere I would rather be.
What has been the most memorable dive of your life and why?
The last dive of my Instructor Exam was the most memorable, particularly when my team mates and I swam back to shore together knowing we were going to be exiting the water as PADI Professionals (assuming nothing went wrong the remainder of that day!). As I swam to shore I realised I had overcome great difficulties and at last I had found my peace underwater. I had achieved more than I ever hoped to that day, I never believed I would pass and yet there I was exiting the water as an Open Water Instructor. It was such a happy moment for me and one I will never forget.
If you would come back as a marine life form in your next life, what would that be?
I would come back as a Blue shark. Everybody loves a Blue shark! They are so relaxed, playful and inquisitive to dive with and I would thoroughly enjoy being able to live in both warmer and cooler water depending on which I preferred.
Who is your dream dive buddy?
I already have my dream dive buddy…my partner Nicholas. He carries my kit for me when I have a back injury, he makes me laugh so much underwater with his antics and we always have such fun together exploring the tiniest of areas for nudibranchs and other mini beasts.
What dive locations are on your dream “bucket list” and why?
I would really like to dive Guadalupe, Australia and New Zealand specifically for Great White sharks so I can get to know the species behaviour more in these different ecosystems. Having worked with Great Whites in South Africa, it would be fascinating to compare my observations there with how the sharks behave elsewhere.
Also, anywhere with an aggregation of Tiger sharks because I would love to spend time getting to know those beautiful, gentle creatures.
Finally, Tonga so I could dive with Humpback whales.
What is on your bedside table right now?
The two books I am currently reading:
‘How to be a Free Range Human’ by Marianna Cantwell
‘Women who run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Also my woolly Airedale Terrier models (I had two gorgeous Airedales called Hester & Paddington) and usually a cuddly shark or two!
What is your favourite piece of diving equipment and why?
My Aqualung Balance Comfort semi-dry suit as it fits like a glove and keeps me toasty. Also my much loved Norse Wear woolly hat, which is the first item I put on after exiting the water to keep warm.
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?
Well, my partner and I have recently given up our paid work and created a marine conservation cause called Friends for Sharks. We are hoping to raise awareness of the plight of sharks and rays and will be touring the world in 2015 to provide free marine conservation events for adults and children in the countries we visit. I believe the key to positive change is encouraging people to reconnect with nature, educating them on the importance of sharks and by inspiring others to take action to protect the oceans and sharks themselves.
For anyone wishing to follow our work, we have a website: www.friendsforsharks.com We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/friendsforsharks
Where will you be in 10 years and what will you be doing?
I will be living with my partner Nicholas and either working together within marine conservation or running our own tourism based business somewhere with sunshine, good wine and scuba diving. I will also be pursuing my love of writing and hope to have published more books by then. I would really like to continue with Friends for Sharks and have enough money to do so but we shall see!
Learn more at Kathryn and Friends for Sharks at: http://www.friendsforsharks.com/ or watch the video below.