As part of my university degree, I had the opportunity to undertake a year in industry. Having travelled with Global Vision International (GVI) previously I took this as an opportunity to use my ambassador credits to get back into the field of conservation. I decided to investigate the marine conservation projects as it was something I hadn’t done before and so signed up to a 6-month Divemaster program in Mexico. I then worried that I wouldn’t like scuba diving and so I decided to complete my Open Water course in the UK before heading to the GVI project.
In 2017, in a cold quarry in Leicestershire, with visibility less than 5 meters I took my first breaths underwater and with that I was hooked on the feeling. I knew from that moment on that I would love 6-months of diving in tropical waters.
When I arrived in Mexico in 2019, I was anxious to see the coral reefs and begin learning its inhabitants. I was thrilled to be able to progress in diving while also having the ability to collect vital data on reef populations and reef health. It was a great feeling to give back to an environment we know so little about, but we have affected so negatively over the last few decades. From collecting beach clean data to assisting the coral microfragmentation and restoration projects I loved every moment of my 6 months. At the end of it I went back home to finish my animal science degree and longed to return to Mexico which I did later than planned in 2021 once the project reopened after COVID.
The ocean is a magical world with all sorts of amazing creatures living there. We as scuba divers have a unique opportunity to be a part of this world and witness wonderful things. One dive that will always stick out in my memory from last year. I was training two volunteers a monitoring technique that involved swimming very slowly in a U-shaped pattern. I was behind the volunteers hunting for invertebrates in the corals and anemones. I had just spotted a Pederson cleaner shrimp nestled in a corkscrew anemone and I was watching it as it waved its arms towards me. I was so distracted looking at it’s translucent and pale blue body that when one of the volunteers tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the right of me, I almost jumped out of my skin. A manatee, 2 meters long, was less than an arm’s length away from me. I could have reached out and felt the algae growing on its grey skin.
After 5 months of working unpaid on the GVI project I started to think about progressing again in the diving world. I looked back on my instructors who had taught me up to my Divemaster. My Open Water course instructor managed to make a cold, murky dive enjoyable. My Advanced Open Water course instructor made me always remember the importance of laughing at your own mishaps having informed my class that “navigation helps you to navigate”. My Rescue course instructor taught me to always put my own safety above others while also trusting my training to prevent accident. And finally, my Divemaster instructor taught me that no matter how many times you get knocked down to always stand up and fight for your dreams. As I looked at the amazing people who had got me to where I was, I decided I wanted to have the same impact on other people and inspire them to love the ocean as much as I do. In January this year I few to Honduras to complete my Instructor Development Course and Instructor Exam.
Diving in Honduras was amazing, although it is the same reef system as Mexico it was a very different experience. There was so much megafauna that seeing a turtle became a daily occurrence. Again, I got involved in the marine conservation that was happening on the island, surveying and treating Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and out planting coral fragments.
I am now working as a PADI Instructor for GVI in the Seychelles. Here I can inspire divers and learn about a different reef system. I am excited to get involved with the science projects here whenever I am not teaching courses. I hope in the future to be able to continue to mould a new generation of divers who are not only diving conscious of their environment but who are actively pushing for marine conservation and change to how we are affecting a world we know so little about.
Learn more about GVI at: https://www.gvi.co.uk
Article kindly submitted by Rose Little.