One year ago, after years of wanting to, I finally became a certified scuba diver. It was a mix of finally leaving uni to work full time, and moving to a new city (Sydney) that gave me the last little bit of push I needed to do it. Even in the pool I was nervous about breathing through a regulator, but I was lucky enough that the supportive dive instructor and divemaster from Abyss got me through it. It took me more ocean dives than I care to admit to get the hang of buoyancy control, but once I did I was hooked... and it was only the beginning.
It's hard to explain the feeling I get from diving. As someone who practices yoga, I'm tempted to say that my enhanced ability to relax and clear my mind while diving is something akin to underwater meditation. I tend to have a sense of being connected to what's around me, and it feels good to watch life ticking away as it should away from the inherit negativity of the daily grind. It also amazes me to think that the ecosystems I'm finning through are so complex, and so important that life as we know it would not exist without them. It's quite humbling to know that I can never hope to comprehend the deepest inner workings of the marine environment. Perhaps it's just my personality type, but that simple fact keeps me interested, and what I've managed to learn so far has inspired me. It would be difficult for me to have this kind of awe and appreciation of the marine world and stand by while it's trashed at an alarming rate. And that's why I became friends with activism...
So there I was, I loved the ocean, I had some issues with what I saw was happening to it, but did't know what I could do about it. A simple Google search led me a Sydney based marine conservation group called ecodivers, and soon thereafter I'd met with David Thomas whose influence has been instrumental in getting me involved in conservation. See, up to this point I'd loved the environment and I'd even attained an environmental science degree, but for some reason by personal beliefs hadn't matched my lifestyle (I have some theories as to why that is... but I'll save that for another day). For example, I was still getting my morning coffee in a take-away cup, after exercising I'd routinely buy a sports drink in all it's plastic bottled glory. Not exactly the actions of someone who knows the potential impacts of pollution and using fossil fuels (that are used to manufacture packaging) on the marine environment. It was meeting people like Dave, and getting involved in ecodivers that really spurred me into action when it came to making better lifestyle choices (and I'm still working on it). It also made me acutely aware of the how widespread and ingrained environmentally irresponsible practices are in today's society. Here I was imagining my self becoming involved in all sorts of environmental campaigns, when the reality is that conservation can start with the simplest of lifestyle changes. An important lesson.
During my time in Sydney, I was lucky enough to take part in underwater cleanups, fish surveys, and occasionally represent ecodivers at events to educate the public about marine conservation. It was a fantastic group to be involved in, and I really miss it since moving to a new town. The only upside is that I haven't been able to find an ideal conservation group to join where I now live, and in order to be actively involved in conservation (other than making conscious lifestyle decisions) I need to branch out on my own. So one year on I have a little more incentive to work on 'My Marine Connection' which (I think) has started to come along nicely. It's my deepest hope that I can spread knowledge, and perhaps even encourage others to start a journey that that will make them feel good, and do a world of good for the oceans that we depend on for our survival and provide endless inspiration. Let the next chapter begin!