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.

Emmy and the Whale by Julian Burrett and Chris Clor: Book Review

They say to never judge a book by its cover, but as soon as I saw the title of this story I was very keen to get my hands on it! We adore whales – in fact we adore anything to do with nature, wildlife and our natural environment – so I figured this would be perfect for us to review.

Emmy and the Whale, Julian Burrett, Chris Clor, childrens book, book review, whale, oceans, adventure, Living Life Our Way

Emmy and the Whale is written by Julian Burrett with imagery by Chris Clor. The story follows the adventure of Emmy and a lost whale as they discover wonderfully mysterious places on their journey to find his way back home.

Emmy and the Whale, Julian Burrett, Chris Clor, book review, childrens book, oceans, whale, resources, Living Life Our Way

The wording and the storyline itself is quite simple. However, in contrast, the pictures in this book are very detailed and advanced. This means that the book would suit a variety of ages and children can get even more out of the story by using the pictures as talking point for discussion. And of course it is also great for even non-readers to look through independently too.

The imagery is somewhat unique; it is a result of days of photography in two different countries and hundreds of hours of CGI and photoshop. It is both surreal and captivating. With each turn of the page, it is almost impossible not to get drawn in by the style and quirkiness of the pictures, and become absorbed in the world that has been created.

Emmy and the Whale, Julian Burrett, Chris Clor, book review, childrens book, oceans, whale, resources, Living Life Our Way

This beautiful book is available to buy via their website at www.emmyandthewhale.com
I was sent this book for free to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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.