Scuba Diving: The Amazing Benefits & An Inspirational Story From Grace, Junior Master Diver

Have you ever tried scuba diving? It is a far more accessible and affordable sport than many might think. We have a diving club in our town, as I am sure alot of places do, and much of the equipment can be borrowed on loan. If you are looking to purchase your own essentials too, scuba diving experts Simply Scuba have an excellent range.

Black and white photo of grace scuba diving with title 'Scuba Diving: The Amazing Benefits & An Inspirational Story From A Young Master Diver'.

There are many benefits to scuba diving; it provides an excellent physical workout and is great for mental wellbeing too. I have written before about the positive impact on the mind of being in water, so it is a brilliant activity from that perspective. It connects people to our natural environment, which ispires and motivates us to protect it – again something I feel passionate about!

I got in touch with a young Junior Master Diver to find out more about scuba diving. She has been diving since the age of 10 and now, at the age of 14, she has an incredible 14 certificates related to scuba diving. This is Grace’s inspirational story and what she says about scuba diving…

A selfie of Grace scuba diving.

I learnt to dive in Egypt with my dad when I was 10 years old. (That’s the youngest you can do the first course). I did one dive in the sea; I would like to say that I loved the whole dive but I had a bit of a wobble at the beginning. I was so close to not doing it, but I am glad I did because I don’t know what my interests would be now if I haven’t started that dive. After I got used to it, I thought every second was amazing!

I love that when I am diving I can switch off from everything outside, all you can hear is the bubbles you breathe and once you have good buoyancy you feel weightless. Now I have been diving for 4 years I have been able to do all of the main courses I can do for my age; I am now a Junior Master Diver and, as soon as I turn 18, I am hoping to get my Dive Master, which will let me be an instructor later.

I would like to be able to teach people to dive because I think that more younger people especially need to experience it. A lot of people think that it is too expensive, or they don’t have the opportunity to do it, but if you look, even around London where I live, there are plenty of dive clubs that you can go to that will train you, and you don’t need any of your own equipment. It is only as expensive as you want to make it.

My best diving moment was probably doing part of my rescue course at night in a cavern in Florida. It was almost pitch black so we were diving with torches. It was only my instructor, my dad and me in the cavern and I have never seen anything like it. The rock illuminated by our lights was just unbelievably stunning, but at the same time it was such a big open place that it was quite eerie. I didn’t know what was coming, but my instructor had told my dad before the dive to go ‘missing’ so I had to deal with it underwater. I found him but when I turned round my instructor had gone ‘missing’ as well. He wasn’t far away but he was pretending to be unconscious (I could tell he wasn’t because of his bubbles).

I dealt with it how I was taught but as I was bringing him to the surface he started acting like a panicked diver; he was kicking and grabbing at me to see how I would react. At one point he knocked my mask off and pulled off both of my fins (flippers for people that don’t dive). I managed to handle the situation and get him out of the water by literally dragging myself and him across the top of this cavern. It was stressful but I remember having a massive smile on my face because I knew that if something that extreme happened in real life I could deal with it and I had confidence in myself, and my dad, as divers. 

My best achievement is becoming a Junior Master Diver in 2016. Since I have been diving I have met so many interesting people, and a lot of adults say that diving is sometimes more social because in the end you spend more time out of the water than in it.

My certifications:

•PADI Junior Open Water

•PADI Junior Advanced open water

•PADI Junior Project Aware

•NAUI First Aid

•NASE Drysuit Diver

•NASE Rescue Diver

•NASE First aid and CPR

•NASE Oxygen Provider

•NASE Night Diver

•NASE Nitrox 1 Diver

•NASE Navigation

•NASE Equipment Specialist

•NASE Digital Imaging

•NASE Cavern Diver

•NASE Wreck Diver

•NASE Junior master Diver

I would recommend that people should give diving a go even if it doesn’t appeal to them. I have known people that thought they weren’t that bothered about it, but once they tried it they thought it was awesome. Also, you don’t have to be a good swimmer to learn how to dive, you just have to have confidence in the water. Any age can dive, but in the future it would be great if we could see more younger people taking part in the sport.

You can find Grace over on Instagram and her photography page for underwater pictures is grace.w.photography. There is also a video clip of Grace’s photography that she took during a dive recently on YouTube too…

I was interested that Grace mentioned drysuit diving, which is something I hadn’t heard of, so I looked it up to find out more. According to PADI website “A dry suit seals you off from the water and keeps you comfortable, even in surprisingly cold water. There is incredible diving in the world’s cooler regions and in some areas, conditions are even better in colder months. Becoming a dry suit diver allows you to expand your boundaries and dive more places, more often.” So basically, it allows you to dive in colder waters, which sounds great for travelling opportunities and finding new diving experiences. Amazing!

Scuba diving is something I am yet to try but I am certainly very sold on the benefits! Squiggle will be old enough soon too, and I would definitely give her the opportunity to try it out, if she would like to. Perfect for both body and mind.

A photo of Grace scuba diving.

Thanks Grace for sharing your story and inspiring us all!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Duffy’s Lucky Escape (Duffy The Sea Turtle): An Inspiring and Educational Childrens Book About Ocean Plastics (Review and Giveaway)

About the Book

Duffy’s Lucky Escape is a fantastic engaging story with the most stunning gorgeous illustrations that takes children on an adventure with Duffy when she encounters plastic pollution in the sea after a storm. This beautiful book, aimed at ages 4-10 years old, highlights the relationship between humans and wildlife, and how we negatively impact their health by polluting their natural habitats. It also teaches how to help in a fun and friendly way.Cover of the book Duffy's Lucky Escape by Ellie Jackson

This book is the perfect present for a special child in your life or even gift a copy to a local school, community group or library.

Educational Value

The book and the accompanying website is exceptionally high quality with a wealth of learning opportunities. It can be used as an educational resource in any setting to discuss recycling, reducing use of single-use plastics, global citizenship, environmental activism and empathy for our natural world. The website has plenty of great ideas on the resources page. There are also some interesting little video clips on their facebook page about the making of the book too.

A picture of Duffy the Sea Turtle swallowing a plastic bag. One of the beautiful illustrations from the book.

The Story Behind Duffy

Duffy was suffering from something called Floater’s Syndrome where the plastics she had eaten were stopping her from diving down under the water to eat. Luckily turtles who are on the surface are more likely to be spotted by people out on boats and so are more likely to be rescued. The first thing they do is to build up the turtles strength before they can find out what is wrong with it via x-ray. In lots of cases they see plastic caught in the turtles throat, stomach or intestines causing the blockage and making them feel very ill. If the turtle is well enough the vets can operate and remove the plastic before they can eventually be released back into their natural habitats. The whole process from the initial rescue to the release can take up to a year. Read the story in more detail here.

A stunning illustration of Duffy in rehab at the rescue centre. A page from the book Duffy's Lucky Escape.

About the Author

I never thought about becoming an author, it was a process that I fell into by reason of circumstance and luck. An amazing opportunity to live for a year on a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef was not something that I ever thought would lead to a new direction for me – we moved there as a family for beaches and adventure! The most beautiful beaches, framed by palm trees and sunsets, just how you would imagine an island paradise to be. We didn’t wear shoes for a year, we had our own pool, and a great circle of friends. My three children were all under school age and it was the perfect chance for us as a family to experience a more laid back approach to life and give our kids real freedom. My husband works from home and this allowed us the chance to try something different before we had to start real life when our eldest started school.

We heard about a turtle release happening on one of the beaches – I have to say I didn’t realise what a big deal this event was going to be – the whole island turned out plus TV cameras and journalists. When it was time for the turtle to be put back into the water, we formed two lines into the sea and the turtle was released on the beach and immediately headed for the sea and was gone in a matter of seconds. It was a surprisingly emotional experience to see this turtle who had spent a year in the aquarium getting fit and healthy again, returning to her ocean home.

After the turtle release, we visited the Turtle Hospital on the mainland and heard all the different reasons as to why turtles need our help – one of which is where they suffer from eating too much plastic. As soon as my young children had made the link between plastic on the beach and turtles, every time we went to the beach they were running around picking up rubbish saying “Mummy, I’m saving a turtle!”. Well that was it for me, I was amazed at how such a simple true story could motivate and encourage such enthusiasm for picking up rubbish!

An illustration of Duffy the Sea Turtle after her release back into the ocean.

Further Information

Shop: Purchase via Duffy the Sea Turtle website directly or buy on Amazon.*

Cost: £7.99 with a percentage of all profits going to UK national marine charities.

To find out more, visit duffytheseaturtle.com or find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

*Contains an affilliate link.

Giveaway

One of you can win a copy of this wonderful book! Simply enter via rafflecopter below. UK residents only. Ends 15th December 2017. Other T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

World Oceans Day 2017 (and #30DaysWild linky!) 

We are now one week into #30DaysWild and so it’s time for a new linky! Thank you to everybody who linked up in the first week, I really enjoyed reading your posts and connecting with you. What has been your favourite challenge so far? And what ideas do you have for the rest of the month? I would love to hear from you!

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic free, green living, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, marine conservation society

Today is World Oceans Day, so I would like to share some information about useful resources and how we can help to protect our oceans. Late last night, I wrote a post about current campaigns, which you can read here. Previously, I have also written about other ways you can protect our oceans and why microbeads should be banned. Last but not least, Marine Conservation Society have some great plastic reduction tips or share your own! Plus grab yourself some sustainable plastic alternatives from their store too.

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic free, green living, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, marine conservation society

If you would like to read more about the wonders of our oceans, Global Guardian project have a free Oceans Capsule for download. Or read about the therapeutic benefits of water in the book Blue Mind by Dr Wallace J Nichols. (Amazon affiliate link). 

What are you doing to celebrate World Oceans Day? Tell me in comments!


Why We All Need To Stop Sucking and Go Topless (For Our Oceans)

Firstly, yes this is still a family blog! So, what am I talking about? The answer is the environment and our oceans of course! More to the point, this post is about all the single-use plastics that get dumped into the environment every single day – polluting our oceans and harming our wildlife – and what we can do about it. 

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic-free, #strawlessocean, #stopsucking, #topless4oceans, #cleanseas, #plasticfree, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, lonely whale, 5gyres, marine conservation society, plastic challenge, campaigns

Lonely Whale Foundation recently launched their Strawless Ocean campaign asking everyone to pledge to #StopSucking by refusing plastic straws and either go straw-free or use more sustainable alternatives. Between Brits and the US, we use 550 million plastic straws every single day. Each single-use plastic straw takes 200 years to break down into tiny toxic particles. Alot end up in the ocean. That is a huge amount of plastic pollution.

Share the video and pledge to ditch plastic straws!

Another great charity, 5Gyres, have also launched a campaign to address the use of disposable cups. Ideally the best thing to do is to take a reusable cup with you to cafes and coffee shops. However, if you don’t have a reusable cup available (and why not? There is no excuse – lots of places sell them!) then at least go topless, so that is one less piece of waste!

Did you know in the UK only one in 400 coffee cups are recycled? It is too difficult to separate their plastic coating and cardboard to recycle the card. Yet, as reported by Telegraph, half of people believe their disposable coffee cups are being recycled all or most of the time. As many as 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away in the UK each year – again, that is ALOT of waste. Invest in a resuable cup and remember to take it with you as a small commitment to protecting our oceans, and our planet.

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic-free, #strawlessocean, #stopsucking, #topless4oceans, #plasticfree, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, lonely whale, 5gyres, marine conservation society, plastic challenge, campaigns

If you would also like other ideas about actions you can take, check out Clean Seas to see what others are up to and join in with their existing campaigns – or start one of your own! 

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic-free, #strawlessocean, #stopsucking, #topless4oceans, #cleanseas, #plasticfree, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, lonely whale, 5gyres, marine conservation society, plastic challenge, campaigns
Squiggle doing a quick beach clean-up during our last visit.

Happy World Oceans Day!

An Early Start (In More Ways Than One!) #30DaysWild 

We woke up super early last Sunday morning and watched the sunrise out of an upstairs window. It was really relaxing and a lovely feel – good way to start the day! Here is a speeded up video clip of it. (Note to self: window cleaner needed 😉 Ignore the dirty marks!) 

We then went to Southend-on-Sea for a day out at the beach. It was so empty and peaceful early Sunday morning. Squiggle had fun playing on the beach, paddling in the sea and looking for crabs.

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, wildlife, sea creatures, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

We then walked along the seafront, past Adventure Island funfair and the pier, to Three Shells Lagoon. Squiggle enjoyed a lovely morning paddle/ swim in the lagoon. Unsurprisingly it was very cold apparently!

We also spotted bird footprints in the sand and we spent a few minutes doing a quick beach clean too, as there was alot of litter around sadly.

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, wildlife, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, beach clean up, litter, environment, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Here are some other photos I took from the visit too….

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, #30dayswild, #LivingLifeWild, Blue Mind, days out, places to visit, beach, kids need nature, get outside

It was such a lovely and relaxing day!

Click for photos and a blog post I wrote from a previous visit. 

#LivingLifeWild #30DaysWild

Global Guardian Project

Global Guardian Project is an inspirational digital multimedia resource – called a learning capsule- designed to educate children (and adults!) about caring for our planet, and to empower children of any age to take action and be change-makers. 

“Our mission is to create learning tools that support the entire family in making simple, daily changes that will become positive habits.”

Each learning capsule is delivered monthly to your inbox. Subscription costs $14.99 per month and can be cancelled anytime. You will only ever pay for what you receive. You can also buy one-off capsules for $16.99. 

The capsules are beautifully presented, and contain a wealth of information and activities. They include things such as endangered species, interviews and spotlights, DIY and art projects, recipes, and guided meditations.  Each one focuses on a different country. The current one is about Sweden and coming next, on 15th April, it will be Israel. Here are some page samples from this month’s Sweden learning capsule…

Global Guardian Project, learning subscription, home education, activist, global citizen, green living, sustainability, our world, freedom to learn, childhood unplugged, affiliate

Global Guardian Project, learning subscription, home education, activist, global citizen, green living, sustainability, our world, freedom to learn, childhood unplugged, affiliate

Global Guardian Project, learning subscription, home education, activist, global citizen, green living, sustainability, our world, freedom to learn, childhood unplugged, affiliate

Global Guardian Project, learning subscription, home education, activist, global citizen, green living, sustainability, our world, freedom to learn, childhood unplugged, affiliate

I cannot express how much I love the aim and approach of this fabulous initiative. As home educators, we are always excited to find awesome new resources. But this one is an absolute dream because it matches our own values so perfectly. So I am genuinely SO delighted to have teamed up with them to offer 10% discount on subscriptions using my code LIVINGLIFEOURWAY To subscribe, click here and enter the code at checkout. Remember you can cancel anytime. 

If you are not sure if you want to commit and would like to try it out first, you can get a free India capsule, worth $14.99, simply by signing up to the newsletter here. They send out useful emails once or twice per month. No junk. Promise.

You can also download the free Oceans capsule here. This is a mini capsule, about 50% of the content of the full size subscription version. But it gives you a great idea of what the capsules are all about. And I am so happy that this one is dedicated to the ocean!

Remember, if you decide to subscribe, my code is LIVINGLIFEOURWAY for your 10% off discount! I hope you love it as much as I do!!!

*Disclosure: I am an affiliate. This means I get paid a referral fee for each person who subscribes using my discount code. You save money, I receive a fee, Global Guardian Project gets subscribers and our planet gains a tribe of protectors. Everyone wins! 

Make A Splash: 5 Ways We Can All Help Our Oceans

We have to keep the momentum going so that we can come together and protect our ocean. Why? Because our ocean is absolutely essential for life itself – not just the food, but the oxygen and weather cycles of the planet all depend on the ocean. ” – Secretary of State John Kerry

No water, no life. No blue, no green. ” –  Sylvia Earle

The health of our oceans is crucial to all life; there is no denying that oceans hold huge importance. Ocean health matters. And right now the statistics are both depressing and worrying. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea (5gyres) and humans have managed to wipe out 90% of the ocean’s top predators in the past 55 years (Oceana).

If we all work together, scientists believe ocean health can be restored. Many of our world leaders are starting to recognise this and are taking action to protect and restore our oceans. For example, France has just declared a ban on single-use plates, cups and utensils from 2020, UK are following USA in banning microbeads and 100+ commitments totaling over $4.8 billion were made at Our Ocean conference in Washington DC, including the creation of 40 new or expanded marine protected areas. That is exciting news for ocean health! 

But there is so much more to do.

Here are some practical ways we can all help to protect and restore our oceans in everyday life…

1. Reduce, refuse and reuse.

Reduce your use of single-use plastics. Bags, cutlery, straws, cups, water bottles and containers all massively contribute to ocean pollution and harm ocean life. Plastic is meant to last, so using it for throw-away items is simply poor product design. Recycling helps of course, but even that has plenty of pitfalls, so is better as a back-up when using plastic can’t be avoided. Making more sustainable choices, such as refusing single-use plastic items and investing in reusable alternatives  is an excellent high impact way of helping our oceans.

Pledge to go #strawless with The Lonely Whale Foundation.

Take the #plasticfree pledge with 5gyres.


2. Check your seafood supply.

Choosing sustainable seafood is important because much of the world’s fish supply is under threat from over fishing. When you add in the issue of climate change and pollution, that is a huge problem for the future of fish on the menu.

Check out Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay aquarium for more about sustainable seafood. 

Marine Conservation Society also has useful information about how to make good choices when it comes to seafood. www.goodfishguide.org 


3. Ban microbeads from your home.

Choose products that do not contain microbeads. Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in some personal and beauty care products, such as toothpaste, scrubs, sunscreens and make-up. They wash off down the drain, then end up in oceans, where they become extremely toxic. They are eaten by fish and other marine life, which causes harm to other life and damages our own food supply too. There are movements to ban microbeads in UK and USA but this has not yet come into force and other countries are yet to follow suit. Removing microbeads from your home could save literally thousands of microbeads from entering our waterways PER DAY.

Find out which products do not contain microbeads www.beatthemicrobead.org


4. Switch energy suppliers.

Switching from fossil fuels to a green energy supplier is not only good for the environment but could also save you money too! 

Climate-changing gases from offshore oil and other fossil fuels are changing ocean chemistry, saturating the oceans with carbon dioxide and making them increasingly acidic.

Acidification is already leading to the degradation of coral reef habitats and negatively impacting some commercially important fisheries, like shellfish.” – Oceana

I personally switched to Good Energy but there are various clean energy companies to choose from. Making the switch is usually quick and easy but makes a massive difference.


5. Donate…

Monetary donations are one thing, but donating can come in many other forms too. One of the most powerful things anyone can donate- for free- is your voice. Sign petitions, share campaigns and start conversations. 

Ocean Unite has a list of actions, as do many other charities and organisations.

Time is another resource that can be donated, such as helping to clean up our beaches. See SAS (UK) and Ocean Conservancy for more information on organised beach clean ups. 

Or you could even donate your art! Visit Lonely Whale for further details or to donate.

 

Last but not least, share how you #MakeASplash to protect our oceans!


This article was written in dedication to #MakeASplash campaign. Thank you to the organisations and charities mentioned for inspiring and teaching me about our oceans. 

30 Days Wild – Day 24: Microbeads 

What are microbeads?

• Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in some personal and beauty care products, such as toothpaste, scrubs, sunscreens and make-up.

• The microbeads used are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can be also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon. If any of these are listed under ingredients then the product contains microbeads.

• Microbeads wash off your body and down the drain, then end up in oceans.

• Microbeads, and other microplastics absorb harmful chemicals like a sponge. They become over a million times more toxic than the water around them.

• Fish and other marine life mistake them for food and eat them.

You can pledge to go #beadfree by only choosing products that are free from microbeads.

For more information about microbeads and plastic pollution, check out the following websites:

www.5gyres.org

www.beatthemicrobead.org

30 Days Wild- Day 8: World Oceans Day

As it is World Oceans Day, Squiggle’s challenge for today was to write down her 4 favourite things about the ocean. This is her message…

my four favourite fings arr boats seals paddling/ dippin my towws wayales (whales)

My challenge for today is to take action to protect the ocean, by sharing information with my online community about microbeads.

image

Today, Greenpeace took a petition signed by 312,239 people to No10 asking our government to ban microbeads here in the UK. To date, US is the only country to have banned microbeads, and that doesn’t come into full effect until July 2018.

However, we have also taken our own action by pledging to be #beadfree to help protect oceans from plastic pollution. Go to www.5gyres.org to add your name to the pledge too!

Check out www.beatthemicrobead.org for more information on microbeads, and other microplastics.