Scubadiving unlocks hidden worlds

My name is Nina and I have just started my PhD at the National Oceanography Center Southampton on microplastic presence in UK waterways. I have been drawn to the ocean ever since a very young age and the first time I knew I would be committed to studying and learning about the sea was during my first scuba dive at the age of 11.

Since then I have had a strong passion for underwater life and the closer I can get to it the better! I am always looking for ways to go deeper and further with scuba diving. In 2014 I passed my Divemaster qualification on the island of Utila, Honduras. This was an incredible experience as not only was I diving alongside eagle rays and turtles, but I was also introducing people to the world of Scubadiving and the whole new world this brings. There is nothing quite like accompanying someone on their first dive. In 2015 I also went on a qualification allowing me to dive down to 60m at my home club in La Favière, a small port of the south coast of France. At those depths, light starts to become scarce and as you look up to the surface you get a glimpse of how vast the ocean is.

I think I am so drawn to Scubadiving because it essentially allows you to “unlock” new places to explore. Very much like in a videogame, scuba is a tool required to achieve a new level on our planet. Life below the surface is completely different from anything on land and the colours, noises, and movements you get to witness are always breath-taking. As many of you watching Blue Planet 2 right now will know, most of the incredible footage they collected come from advances in scuba gear. This includes a personal favourite of mine: rebreathers, which essentially recycle the air you breathe and release no bubbles whilst diving. Rebreathers allow divers to get extremely close to marine life and film never before seen behaviours.

A rebreather works by allowing you to essentially breathe the same air repeatedly. This is possible thanks to a can of sodium hydroxide that essentially “cleans” your exhaled air of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide reacts with sodium hydroxide to form a calcium carbonate solid that is then stored during your dive. Before your next breath, another tank of pure oxygen replenishes your air to make it breathable. This incredible technology allows you to silently sneak up on elusive and shy marine life that would otherwise swim away at the sight of bubbles. I have experienced this first hand when diving alongside barracudas at my home club in France. If you get too close to them or find yourself exhaling whilst below them, they swim away to avoid the bubbles your produce. Here is a video from a dive with barracudas:

An eagle ray swam by during a dive off Utila Island, Honduras

I would highly recommend Scubadiving if you never have done so before! My advice is make sure you completely trust your instructor and always voice any concerns or questions. Scubadiving is a sport that must be learnt in a safe and trusting environment to avoid being put off by finding yourself in a stressful situation.

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