Women who Scuba Dive – my diving adventures

Learning how to scuba dive was always a bucket list event, and my bucket list location to do this was in Thailand. So in January of 2016, I flew from Sydney to Thailand, and made my way to the island of Koh Tao. What was supposed to be a one week stay ended up a three week scuba diving pilgrimage, where I fell in love with scuba diving, attaining both my PADI Open Water and my Advanced Open Water qualifications at Master Divers.

So in honour of PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 18th, here is a reflection of my experience of when I first learned to scuba dive, and my scuba diving adventures ever since.

MASTER DIVERS on Koh Tao, Thailand is one of the longest operating PADI dive centres, first opening in 1992. I initially booked onto the Open Water qualification, but ended up progressing onto the Advanced Open Water, and adding night diving, wreck diving and peak buoyancy training to my scuba diving repertoire.

My experience with Master Divers as a training centre was excellent. Communication prior to my arrival was frequent, my dive instructor David was professional, patient and friendly, and the staff helpful and welcoming.

CORAL CAY CONSERVATION is a marine conservation and scuba diving expedition organisation based in the United Kingdom. Keen to further develop my passion and love for both scuba diving and marine conservation, I lived on the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat in the Caribbean for one month in May of 2016. For six days a week, and two dives a day, I honed my buoyancy while learning about fish, invertebrates, impacts, and substrates. With a slate in one hand, our team counted and documented the marine life, in order to map the marine habitat that was damaged during the island’s volcanic eruptions in the mid 1990’s.

DIVE AGAINST DEBRIS is a Project AWARE campaign where marine debris is collected from the seafloor, and the data reported and documented to drive change and create solutions to stopping more of it in our oceans. While on Montserrat, our conservation team joined Charley and her dive team on their monthly dive for debris at Carr’s Bay. In an hour, we collected 16kg of debris, including 13 bags of plastic, 31 pieces of different plastic disposable cutlery, 32 pieces of other plastic fragments, 152 aluminum cans and 29 cans (food, juice or other).

ARABIAN SEAS are not just for sailing, but some of the best diving is found on the East Coast of the United Arab Emirates. While visiting my friend who lives in Ras Al Khaimah, I booked three recreational dives with Al Boom Diving in Fujairah, to Martini Rock, Sharm Rocks and the hole in the wall. The average water temperature in the month of May is 26 degrees celcius. As a diver with Al Boom, you get a discounted meal voucher to Le Meridien Al Aqah Resort next door, making this a perfect dive day out.

DIVE BUCKET LISTS will be my next travel and scuba diving venture, once the world recovers from Covid-19. I’ve only dived in Thailand, the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, on Santorini in Greece, and the United Kingdom. But there are so many more underwater places and things I want to experience including the Phillippines, especially Palawan and Boracay, the Canary Island of El Hierro, the Silfra Fissure in Iceland, the Blue Hole in Belize, and Hammerhead and Whale Sharks. Where are your favourite diving destinations and why?

Happy PADI Women’s Dive Day this July 18 to all the women and girls out there who have experienced the wonderful world below the water’s surface.


Dive Against Debris and World Oceans Day 2016

I’ve always been an advocate for the environment, but even more so now I’ve learned how to scuba dive. In my fourth and final week here on Montserrat as a volunteer with Coral Cay Conservation, I’ve been fortunate to take part in several events, for the first time ever, to help protect and preserve our marine environment; Project AWARE‘s Dive Against Debris on Monday June 6, 2016  and World Oceans Day on Wednesday June 8, 2016. 

 World Oceans Day was introduced first in 1992, and occurs on June 8 every year.  It was officially recognised by the United Nations (UN) in 2008. The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of the oceans as a source of food, oxygen and medicine, but also the challenges humanity faces to protect it.

Our oceans are the largest living space on Earth and are important for many reasons;

  • Oceans generate so much of the oxygen we breathe
  • Oceans feed us
  • Oceans regulate the earth’s climate
  • Oceans clean the water we drink
  • Oceans offer a pharmacopoeia of medicines

Unfortunately our oceans around the world face many challenges that threaten not only the species that live within, but humanity’s own survival. There are many threats to our oceans today including:

  • Unsustainable fishing of which 90% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited or overfished, threatening ocean life and it’s habitats.
  • Inadequate protection. Oceans might cover over 70% of our planet surface, but less than 5% of our oceans are currently protected.
  • Tourism and development means coastlines and beaches are more populated, increasing the threats on marine life, especially pollution.
  • Pollution not only affects the food chain of the marine world, but humans as well. Most land pollutants such as pesticides, fertilisers, industrial chemicals, sewage, garbage and plastics all eventually end up in our oceans.
  • Climate change has increased sea temperatures and sea levels, affecting specifies distribution, increasing coral bleaching and changing marine habitats.

    This year’s World Oceans Day theme is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. Both events I was part of focused on marine debris that threatens our oceans today. 

    Marine debris includes not only plastic based materials, but polystyrene cups and packaging, rubber (boots and tyres), metals (oil drums), glass, fishing lines and gear. Lost and discarded fishing gear entangles whales, seals and most turtles. Many marine creatures die from ingesting marine debris which damages and blocks their digestive systems.

    The most frequently found item in beach cleanups is pieces of plastic, with other popular items to include plastic foam, plastic utensils, pieces of glass and cigarette butts. 60 to 80% of marine debris is made up of plastic, with 6.5 million tonnes of plastic being discarded by ships alone.

    Dive Against Debris at Carr’s Bay, Montserrat

    Our team here at Coral Cay Conservation were part of  Montserrat Island Dive Centre‘s monthly debris and beach clean up at Carr’s Bay on Monday June 6, 2016. This bay has been adopted by Charley and her dive team at Montserrat Island Dive Centre as part of Project Aware‘s Adopt a Dive Site. 

    June 2016 marks the team’s seventh consecutive clean up which involves both a beach clean sweep and Project Aware’s Dive against Debris.

    Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris was created by divers for divers. This is a global, underwater survey of marine debris that aims to not only remove debris, but prevent harm to marine life and influence policy changes and prevention.  The debris collected is documented and the data recorded and reported.

    The event kicked off at Carr’s Bay around 9.30am with Charley briefing us on the debris dive. We had a few extra items with us for this dive including a mesh bag to collect the debris and gloves to protect our hands.

    Eight divers entered the shores of Carr’s Bay to Dive Against Debris.

    We spent the next hour collecting marine debris around the reef and off the ocean floor. 

    We collected a total of 16kg of debris that included 13 bags of plastic, 27 pieces of plastic bottles, 31 plastic pieces of cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons, 32 different pieces of plastic fragments, 152 aluminium beverage cans and 29 cans (food, juice or other). Other items included a car part, a toothbrush, fishing line and a cigarette lighter. 

    We only collected a fraction of marine debris that was under water at Carr’s Bay. Charley and her team at Montserrat Island Dive Centre have been diving for debris at this site for the past seven consecutive months. You can view just how much marine debris has been collected  by Charley, as well as divers around the world on the Dive Against Debris map.  

    The second event occurred on Wednesday June 8, 2016 at Brades Nursery on Montserrat. Led by our field base manager Susan, staff and volunteers performed a puppet show about the marine reef creatures of Carr’s Bay whose daily lives were being affected by all the marine debris on the reef. 
    There is so much we can do to protect our oceans and the marine creatures that live in it, from reducing our use of plastic to simply taking all our rubbish with us and putting it securely in bins. We can choose seafood sourced from sustainable fishing practices, use environmentally friendly chemicals and sunscreens, and always look and not touch all the marine life we see when visiting the sea. 

    Happy World Ocean’s Day, 2016!