Tell us a little about your background
I'm from a little village in the North West of England which has a coast...but you only every see the sea twice a day as the tide is huge over the mud flats. Instead my passion for exploring the sea started a bit more tropically in Malaysia. From a young age, every other year we would try visit my mothers family in Malaysia, and when we did we would visit the East Coast islands. How could you not fall in love with the sea there? That initial spark that ignited in those warm waters has driven me to pursue scuba diving and has let me to complete my degree in marine biology at the University of Plymouth.
What's your favourite marine animal and area of study?
My favourite animal (let me tell you this is not easy Alex!)...It's between a Mantis shrimp or a Manta Ray. Manta Rays because they are the most elegant thing in the sea. Huge, graceful and highly intelligent. Mantis Shrimp because they are so bad ass. They put into perspective how little we actually see the world. With at least 12 colour receptors on their retina to our puny 3, imagine how psychedelic the world is in their eyes!
You are currently in Malaysia and on the move. What have you been up to this past month?
I've come to Malaysia to visit the family. I couldn’t be on this side of the planet and not swing by! It’s been a well needed rest as just in the past month I’ve been diving with bull sharks in Fiji, watching scientists tag sharks to monitor the effects of shark feeding as well as trying to decipher the nursery grounds of Fiji’s sharks. I’ve also completed a diving course on twin tanks, GUE fundamentals, as even though I thought I was a good diver, I knew I could push myself to become even better. And then lastly I went on a photography trip to the Mecca of Macro, Lembeh with the fantastic underwater photography William Tan. Not only did we do the usual critter hunt in the day to scope out blue-ringed octopus, mantis shrimps and hairy frog fish… but we also headed into the middle of the strait for black water diving at night, luring in creatures of the night and deep, basically larvae and plankton. The coolest, most alien-like creatures I’ve seen.
What kind of positive change would you like to see towards our oceans? Is there an area you are particularly worried about?
There are so many things hitting the oceans currently, a lot of these impacts the oceans can buffer against if given time. But something the oceans have never had to face before is plastic pollution. I know a lot of people are working to solve this issue, but especially being in Asia at the moment, I can see a lot of people still don’t know, still don’t care. I’ve seen first hand plastic bags being pulled out of dead turtles that have washed up. If the whole world doesn’t act together, we are going to lose a lot of our beautiful marine life.
How long have you been diving for? and what is one of you favourite dive spots to date?
I’ve been diving since I was 12. I lucked out big time as my dad loved scuba diving so I naturally had my diving buddy. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the red sea earlier during my scholarship year, and we dove quite relentlessly within the Ras Mohammed National Park in the North. It was brimming with life and colour. We timed it for fish spawning, so were able to see huge schools of bohar snapper, barracuda, bat fish…and my favourite, schools of puffer fish!!!! It was probably one of the few places I’ve been to that showed me what seas all around the world should look like.
A phrase that means something to you..
Every Action has a Reaction. – I learnt this one in school and initially used to think it applied to the way we treated others around us. I still believe that, but now also apply it to the way we treat our world in our day to day. Especially when some of us live so far removed from nature and the oceans, we can hardly see how one little thing can have a repercussion. But reactions are inevitable, we’re all connected to each other and our environment.