Thursday, March 8

Just Keep Swimming

When I was in year 10, I decided to get my Scuba Diver license. I only had the permit to dive until 18 meters. But with that, and a whole lot of love for the ocean and whale sharks, I gambled my way to study at the Faculty of Marine Science and Fisheries, Udayana University, majoring in Marine Sciences.

It was until my third year I realise that marine sciences, literally, covers all scientific aspects of the ocean. It was challenging to deal with numbers, computer programming, nutrient chemistry, wave and swell predictions, atmospheric effects, and so on. I was really out of my comfort zone! But in that same semester, I got SCUBA diving class. SCUBA diving is a necessary subject to take, and I was happy to refresh myself with the diving skills and knowledge. I was also very interested in the way diving dan snorkeling can be a skill for taking samples underwater. I’ve never thought of using those skills to take data, but after the semester was over, I was all over it. For the next two semesters, I learned so much, including how to monitor coral reefs just by snorkeling; distinguish healthy and bleached coral reefs; take, count and data seagrasses while SCUBA diving; and a whole lot more! It amazes me by how a set of skills can be so useful, especially in scientific matters. The ocean, while many have been to, is mainly unknown still, and it is my responsibility, as a marine science student, to explore the life below, and come up with solutions to global marine issues and new discoveries.

This weekend, I did my PADI Advance Open Water Diver license at Nusa Lembongan,Bali. I was very, very nervous about getting my license. By advancing my SCUBA diving skills, I would have even bigger and more challenging responsibilities in order to keep the ocean healthy. During the course, I decided to get three main and important skills I think would be useful for scientific purposes, as well as two necessary dives. The three skills I chose was Drift Diving, Peak Performance Buoyancy, and Underwater Photography. The two necessary dive skills were Deep Dive and Dive Navigation. Throughout the course, I had plenty of fun, met kind and interesting people, saw interesting creatures I’ve never seen before, and of course, increased my dive logs! I also gained some new set of skills, such as diving with good buoyancy (this is very important!), identifying fishes, photographing underwater, navigating underwater and deploying an SMB!

With these skills, I realise I can easily implement them during both recreational and scientific dives. Maintaining a good buoyancy while taking data samples will not only give more concentration on taking the data, but also saves plenty of time! Taking good, non-blurry pictures is also a key skill, especially when the pictures are needed for identification. Lastly, without getting back to land safely, the data would be useless. Therefore my navigating and SMB deploying skills are very useful in this matter.

As a marine science student, it is crucial to have a critical mind when talking about marine global issues. One of them is marine debris pollution. During my first day of dive, I went to Manta Point in Nusa Penida and saw a large amount of debris floating in the water. I knew there were marine debris at Manta Bay, but I didn’t know it was as bad in Manta Point. As I jumped into the water, while also doing my course, I scanned my surrounding for pieces of plastic in the surface, the water column, and the seabed. There were plastic everywhere. It saddened me and made me realise that the marine debris pollution is a never-ending global issue. However, with the help of several other people, this issue could be minimised. All I need is to make it into a research. This issue could potentially be something I explore for my final year project. With the skills learned from the PADI Advance Open Water Diver course, I know I am able to do a research on this matter well (and hopefully make a contribution to the marine world).

Thank you PADI for the course. My instructor (Satu Ahola!) was awesome, the course book was very understandable even for a English-as-a-second-language learner like me, and the dives were unbelievably pleasant. Overall, I am pleased to have the PADI Advance Open Water Diver course as a stepping stone for my career. I am also very grateful of the support from Marine Megafauna Foundation, an organisation that promotes ocean conservation, specifically on marine megafauna, by inspiring the world, educating global and local communities, protecting marine life and their key habitats, and of course, doing researches to pursue reliable data. A big round of applause as well to Big Fish Diving Lembongan for their great dive shop facilities, quality dive tanks and gears, and a group of friendly staff. This has been an amazing experience. I am one happy diver :)

Woo hoo! Today is International Women’s Day! I am spreading all the love and energy to the great, powerful and kind-hearted women out there. To all the women abused, assaulted, and threatened, you have the power to be the bigger person. You are strong and whatever the problem is/are, you can get through it. It’ll be okay. To the women who are told they aren’t capable of achieving their dreams, stand up. Work your heart off and tell the world you are going to make it. No one tells you whether you can or cannot do. Your actions are your decisions. To the women who fear of intimidating men by their own success, stop. Your success and hard work will attract the men you deserve. Women, go out from your comfort zone and start building yourself. Advancing my scuba diver license was my way of celebrating my existence as a women marine science student, hoping to create impacts like Sylvia Earle has. I hope today (and on upcoming days), you feel powerful. Because everyone deserves to feel that way. 


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