Scuba Diving and Eco, not a position I had even considered when you make all those choices at school about what you want to be when you’re older. How could it be possible to have the ocean as your office yet still make a difference?
I had always been interested in biology from a young age but never really knew what I wanted to do. You see all those cool people on TV spending time with these awe-inspiring exotic animals all over the planet. That got me thinking and when choosing my university degree, I ended up going to study International Wildlife Biology. And it was just as awesome as the title suggested! It allowed me to travel and experience a variety of ecosystems such as the South African plains, tropical rainforests and reefs in Borneo. This led me to choose Malawi in East Africa to study and research the abundance of different species of snakes on the Mvabi Wildlife Reserve, for my dissertation.
Throughout university two areas that I found fascinating were the world under the ocean and the wonders of the African plains. After university I was fortunate enough to secure a volunteer placement on a game reserve in South Africa as a cheetah handler. This was a once in a life time experience, helping with the cheetah breeding programme and releasing cheetahs back into the reserve. Unfortunately, all too soon, I had to head back home and consider what to do next.
During my degree I learnt to dive in a UK quarry. In a dry suit. It was cold! But while studying and exploring the tropical reefs in Borneo on my travels, I saw my first ever Whale Shark and became totally hooked! So off I went to the Seychelles for a Divemaster internship and participated in coral reef surveys. This is where I truly fell in love with the marine environment, spending my days researching invertebrate species of the reefs. I then moved to Koh Tao where I took further professional training to become an Instructor and Master Scuba Diver Trainer with Master Divers. The island is now home, and I have the enjoyment of sharing my love of ecology and diving through teaching – a dream come true for me!
Shortly after becoming an instructor the Eco and Conservation role became available and I was fortunate enough to be offered the job. I now have the rare opportunity to help raise awareness and support through teaching people to dive responsibly, and share my extensive knowledge of marine life at the same time. I also manage an artificial reef and lead regular conservation and clean up dives.
So how can you get involved? At Master Divers we are offering a Green Open Water package which consists of an extra dive related to conservation. We also run regular land and sea clean ups to help rid our local beaches and bays of plastics and other pollutants. In addition, we host an ‘eco night’ once a week, where you can learn more about threats to our oceans and the various ways you can help to protect and sustain them. Details of our next clean up and eco nights can usually be found on our blackboards or ‘what’s on’ notice board in the dive centre.
We are also a Shark Guardian dive centre, and as such we make contributions to the Thailand eShark project collecting data on sightings of all the sharks, turtles and rays we see out on our dives. So if you are out diving with us and spot any of these, do let your dive leader know so we can record it and add to the database!
I am so happy in my role here, but also looking forward to what is next – we’re constantly thinking of other methods to raise awareness about ecological and conservation issues. So if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to let us know! We must all work together to ensure the next generation get to experience the same magical underwater life we are spoiled with today!