Knowing I was interested in a career in marine biology I was gifted a Try dive at my local dive club to see if scuba diving was something I would be interested in, I loved it. I then went on to complete my PADI open water, my first open water dive was in a small quarry – Dosthill just north of Birmingham, at the end of February, it had started snowing so we had to leave our gear floating in the quarry or our gear would freeze and free-flow draining our tanks, I loved the cold water despite the “ice-cream headache” every time i tried to the mask removal skill. I loved the feeling of floating like I was zero gravity, my next experience of cold water diving after completing my Open water was a drift dive in Swanage, where I felt like Peter Pan flying through the skies waving hi to the sea creatures as I flew by.
Then during my undergraduate degree where I undertook a placement year, originally planned for 6 months in Greece studying marine plastics, I stayed in the UK working for two AONBs in Suffolk allowing me to experience both land base conservation efforts and coastal conservation, learning different techniques in river monitoring and coastal management. however, I really wanted to pursue a marine ecology career so I signed up to join one of GVIs marine conservation programs out in the Seychelles, this would allow me to be trained up to Advanced Open Water status while also completing scuba surveys measuring the abundance, diversity and density of the coral and commercial fish species found on the reefs surrounding Mahe.
3 months exploring my dream on a tropical island wasn’t nearly enough. I wanted more. returning for my final year of Uni made me work 110% harder to pursue my dream of marine biology, I was looking for jobs but found that most companies looked for a Divemaster qualification as a minimum or required a Master’s degree, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to return to the Seychelles and complete my Divemaster while also passing on my fish knowledge as the base came out of COVID.
Highlights of my career as a diver so far, witnessing someone’s reaction to spotting a White Tip Reef shark underwater for the first time. Watching a rescue team work together to save a distressed diver. Assisting a local researcher in geo tagging a Hawksbill turtle after nesting to track her movements throughout the next year.
I have now completed 250 dives, I am working as a Divemaster, training Advanced Open Water students in a variety of different species identification levels to complete surveys as part of the GVIs Coral Reef Monitoring Project. In the Near future I will finally complete my Masters in Philosophy studying Anthropogenic pollutions within the UK territorial waters, and my Instructors certification. I love teaching students about the world of diving and getting to experience with people their new found love.
by Stephanie Pool