Why am I obsessed with diving and the ocean?
Because it doesn’t matter what your problems are on the surface, once you’re in the ocean they disappear and you are left with absolute peace. The feeling of diving is like floating in space, and discovering wild, colourful and bold creatures underwater is amazing! There is nothing on earth that comes close to the experience of being underwater.
So have I always been like this? Well no, actually diving is a sport that had never crossed my mind to try. I had no friends that dived, I knew hardly anything about the sport, and I didn’t care too much for the ocean.
But then I came out of a break up, feeling refreshed and like doing something for me… Of course I didn’t have a clue what that would be, I just knew it would be something out of my comfort zone and something I had never thought of before. I trawled through google looking for adventure and I found myself in a learn to dive course.
I found breathing out of a regulator for the first time to be unusal. You take it for granted; how easy it is to breathe every day without trying, and then all of a sudden you’re having to suck air out of a foreign device and hope it gets to your lungs!
I had severe sea sickness for my first dive from a boat which I had never experienced before and FYI herbal sea sick pills do not work, do not bother with them!
I remember descending into the ocean on my learn to dive course, and I just thought: what the hell am I doing? (laughs) but once I got down there I was amazed, it was like I had landed on another planet. All my fears floated away and I knew from that moment on that this would become a life long obsession.
Above: One of my first dives with a compact Sealife camera back in those days.
Something I have always taken with me diving and my motto is to never panic no matter what happens. The mind is such a powerful tool, it can save our lives or kill us at the same time. Either way I knew that if I let it, my mind would wander down those paths getting terribly lost and stuff up any chances of continuing this fantastic journey I had just embarked on. So I made a promise to myself to always stay calm underwater, and never let my mind play tricks on me. I think it’s been the most important thing I’ve learnt and has helped me in many situations.
So where does my ocean conservation side come into it? Well that happened simultaneously when my love for diving and the ocean grew. I started to do some research instead of just relying on mainstream media to give me the answers. I found out that our oceans are over-fished and we have depleted over 90% of our worldwide fish stock.
Above: Charity fundraising for Oceanic Defense and Sea Shepherd.
Not only was I surprised by this, like most people I had always thought the ocean was plentiful with fish and this perception of course was reinforced by the supply of fish to my plate….but what horrified me more was learning about the effects of some fishing practices.
Now this was really hard for me, because being a kiwi girl I grew up fishing and hunting. My parents even owned a fishing and hunting shop! and seafood was my all time favourite thing in the world! I would usually eat salmon at least 4 times a week, love seared tuna steaks, mussels, oysters you name it and I would be all over it!
But what about all the beautiful turtles, dolphins, sharks, rays I was seeing in the ocean? All the bycatch, the long suffering from these marine species as they died slowly on long lines or were killed by trawlers. All of a sudden seafood didn’t sound that appealing to me anymore. And I quit, cold turkey.
I still have the odd craving for seafood especially my all time favourite salmon but all in all I feel better for trying to understand how my food gets to my plate. I would eat seafood as a treat if it was caught by a single line local fisherman, I’m not against fishing or eating seafood. But I am against un-sustainable fishing and over-fishing to the point of making some species extinct. I do eat Mussels and Oysters as they are filter feeders and farmed and actually have a good impact on the ocean by filtering the water.
Above: My first shark dive at my now favourite dive site in Australia, Julian Rocks, New South Wales.
Diving changed my life and now I hope I can inspire change for others so we don’t lose some of the most precious things we have on earth.
Above: My first dive at the Seaway, Gold Coast, Australia
Above: A surface interval diving Flinders Reef when learning to dive.