Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist. Well, that’s not technically true. Originally, I wanted to be a mermaid but soon realised that wasn’t going to happen so I settled on marine biology instead. Little did I realise that one day I would step off a plane in Grand Cayman (after almost 24 hours flying) to begin a whole new journey.
Without realising it, I have joined an incredible family, the WildEarth diveLIVE family – a dedicated team of individuals working closely to make this new venture come true. Connecting people with nature is all I have ever wanted to do and is what I will continue to do with diveLIVE.
I want people to see and feel what I do when I am underwater. As Jacques Cousteau once said “The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish”. Being able to take people from all around the world beneath the surface with me through LIVE and interactive broadcasts is incredible. Despite all the technical challenges the team has faced to date, we have faced them together and we’re making leaps and bounds everyday to make this happen. Having traveled across the globe on my marine adventures, I have also never come across such a dedicated and welcoming group of people.
I spent the past 6 years working as a marine biologist in Maldives yet it was utterly amazing, if somewhat terrifying, to come to Grand Cayman and begin exploring the Caribbean Sea. I didn’t fully realise what a different experience it would be to what I’m used to. Not only is the coral diversity different, the fish species are different and even the ones that are familiar have different names. My favourite Indian Ocean character, the scribbled filefish, is called the scrawled filefish here and all these new names will definitely take time to get used to. The corals are healthier, huge sponges are plentiful, there are fish I have never encountered before and the sheer abundance of sea fans is something I have yet to encounter anywhere else. And of course, there are the sea turtles.
I am crazy about sea turtles and was part of a successful nation-wide citizen science project in Maldives. We used photographic mark-recapture data to establish a database of sea turtles to study population dynamics, migrations and habitat use. Citizen science projects pave the way to the future of conservation and are accessible to anyone and everyone to use to make a difference – connecting people to nature, the oceans and coral reefs, allowing everyone to save the world’s oceans one step at a time.
Not only does working with diveLIVE combine all my passions into one role: turtles, education, marine biology and diving, I also get to continue to pursue my other passion, freediving. When not diving LIVE, I will be freediving – it’s truly my happy place and maybe the closest to mermaiding I will ever get.
Freediving is about silence, the silence that comes from within. Most people meditate on land however, my meditation starts the minute I hold my breath and go beneath the surface. My mind completely clears, my body relaxes and I let go of any tension I am holding. However the world around me is not silent. The one thing that never fails to surprise me is how noisy life is on the coral reefs. You can hear crunching, moaning, grunting, croaking, booming, hissing, whistling, creaking, shrieking, and even wailing, you are literally entering into a whole new world. A vibrant, noisy world.
The diveLIVE journey will allow me to be able to spread my passion and knowledge to others around the world in order to help people love and conserve what we have. This is my ultimate goal. I don’t know everything about the ocean but I enjoy learning from the people around me including my incredible fellow presenters, the amazing dive centre team at Don Foster’s Dive Centre and the local people about their experiences of the ocean from present day and delving into the past.
In Maldives, the most interesting days were the ones where I made a difference to people’s lives; whether this was giving a guest their first magical manta experience, or teaching the local kids to snorkel, allowing them to experience the underwater world, which lies on their doorstep. I hope to do the same with diveLIVE for those watching around the world.
Written by Lauren Arthur