Posted by: Elizabeth Maksymonko
As you know, understanding and appreciating marine life and ocean ecosystems is incredibly important – after all, oceans cover nearly ¾ of Earth’s surface. Most people learn about the oceans from TV shows or classes in school, which may foster an awareness, but not necessarily a connection. To really feel the oceans, I think you’ve got to “see to believe.”
I’ve had an appreciation for the oceans as long as I can remember, and ate up every ocean-focused show on the Discovery Channel from giant squids to sharks. I spent many summers visiting the ocean, but I still felt I was missing something. About a year ago, this all changed. I stumbled across classes for scuba diving, and decided to give them a shot. This turned out to be one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, as diving has given me some of the most amazing experiences of my life.
There are so many benefits to diving. It’s different than going on a safari through the Serengeti or trekking through the jungle because if done correctly, you don’t disturb the environment. I love being able to immerse myself in the marine environment without disrupting anything while watching animals acting naturally.
Every dive I’ve gone on has been unique – each time I go underwater, I find myself in a new adventure, picking up insights I wouldn’t be able to get from a book. I never know what I’ll see; sometimes a moray eel will pop its head out as I swim past, or I’ll spot a sea turtle swimming off in the distance. This is such a great escape from the bustle and stress of everyday life – on the surface of the ocean, especially near the beaches, you’ll probably find yourself in the midst of a lot of splashing, yelling and crashing waves – fun, but not exactly peaceful. As you descend into the depths of the sea, however, you’ll be right in the middle of a blissful world of solitude, where often the only sound you hear is the bubbling from your regulator. I think it’s one of the most calming processes I’ve ever experienced.
One of the greatest gifts diving has given me is the huge appreciation I now have for all the creatures in the sea, great or small. As I float above amazing varieties of fish and coral, I am able to fully appreciate why we have to work to save them and their environment. For example, coral reefs, which many take for granted, have been severely degraded through climate change and human activities. This is painfully obvious when you see them up close. While this was difficult to see, it helped me realize that we must work to protect this living habitat that supports so much of the life in the seas. In fact, diving made me even more of an avid environmentalist because it provided a way for me to really understand that not only are the oceans worth protecting, they need our help now.
I had this realization the first time I dove, and at that point, I knew I wanted to make marine conservation my life’s work. Not everyone will change their career path after diving – but I do think everyone will walk away with a new perspective on the oceans. So, whether you dive to discover a new environment, release tension or to simply see some awesome animals, I recommend diving to everyone who is able and has the opportunity to learn. I guarantee it will be as rewarding for you as it has been for me and you’ll never forget the experiences. You’ll be able to plunge into a world completely different from what we know on land and will gain a whole new appreciation and respect for all the creatures who call the ocean home.
Date Posted: January 31, 2011 @ 11:30 am Comments Off