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10-year-old from Mumbai is world’s youngest female scuba diver

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Sitting on the sofa at her Oshiwara home, and periodically lunging forward to grab fistfuls of the chivda before her, ten-year-old Tamanna Balachandran looks like any other restless kid on vacation. Except that her conversation is peppered with terms like “underwater visibility”, “hand communication”, and what a baby leopard shark looks like. Because though her tiny legs swing high above the floor, they have helped propel the barely four-foot-tall girl deep into the waters at the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and emerge with a scuba-diving record.

The Mumbai resident is the world’s youngest qualified female scuba-diver certified by PADI. On the 16th April, a day after her 10th birthday, Tamanna was awarded the PADI Junior Open Water Scuba Divers certificate. Previous record-holders included Egypt’s Natasha Turner, who had bagged the qualification at the age of 10 years and three days.

Tamanna, who will attend grade 5 at Vibgyor High International School when vacations end, was always a “water-baby”, says her father, Balachandran Unni. “Even when she was a year old, she was always trying to reach out to the swimming pool,” he adds, laughing. Tamanna had company in her elder sister, Rashi, who was an avid swimmer and diver herself. “But I was only eight then, and so I wasn’t old enough,” she says. “So I decided to do the Bubble Maker course instead.” The programme, designed for kids below ten years of age, acquainted her with the essentials of going underwater.

“They learnt about basic skills such as communication while underwater, what one does when there is pressure in your ears,” explains her mother Rita. Tamanna also took up rigorous swimming to build her stamina, and two years later, decided to take a crack at scuba-diving. Rashi completed her own scuba-diver certification as well, with Tamanna. The certification course spanned two days, and three levels, from theoretical training, to diving in confined and open water areas. The participants progressed from knee-deep water to diving in a real-life environment, while practicing the nitty-gritty of underwater safety.

“Tamanna was a natural in the water. She was comfortable right from the start,” says her instructor Prafful Chugh. The ten-year-old also had keen observational skills underwater, he says, which is something children generally need to be taught to develop.

But while she has soaked in the admiration from her diving friends and classmates, Tamanna plans on taking a break before hitting the pool. “So much diving and swimming we did!” she says, stretching out on the couch. “I’m not going to even think of water for some days.” Within moments though, she is back with more stories of the corals and sea creatures she spotted.

 

Source: www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Join us in supporting Dive Project Cornwall Crowdfunder Project

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Do you have a moment to help protect our oceans?

We’re on a mission and have partnered with DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL to help protect our oceans for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL is a unique EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE initiative, reaching over 3,000 schools with their Ocean Education Programme, inspiring the next generation to protect our oceans for everyone to cherish and enjoy.

At the heart of the project is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime. They will take the learning from the classroom straight to the shores of Porthkerris on a 6-day, life changing trip where they will learn to scuba dive and be taught the importance of marine conservation. They will become ‘Ocean Influencers’ for the future.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL needs our help.

Can you join us with a gift to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL?

Whether it’s £5 or £50, a gift from you to the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL Crowdfunder Project will help their vision of protecting our oceans through the innovative experience designed for school children.

Will you join us and pledge to support 400 lucky teenagers learn from and EXPERIENCE the ocean like never before and give them an EDUCATION they can use to inspire others, not forgetting the memories that will last a lifetime?

For more information, you can read the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL story HERE.

Help us create the next generation of Ocean Influencers with a donation to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL and ensure our oceans (and planet) are protected for the future.

WWW.CROWDFUNDER.CO.UK/P/DIVE-PROJECT-CORNWALL

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Marine Life & Conservation

Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores

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Marine Conservation Society’s wildlife sightings project asks beachgoers to share their discoveries and contribute to research

The Marine Conservation Society’s long-running wildlife sightings project focuses on two key species which arrive on UK shores: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both species are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of climate change while being at risk from its impacts.

The charity is asking beach and seagoers to share when they spot either of these marine animals to support ongoing research.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK’s warming waters to feed on plankton blooms or, in fact, anything small enough to get caught. To that extent, jellyfish feed not only on plankton, but also the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which rely on plankton as a stage of reproduction.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Everything from tuna to turtles will feed on jellyfish of various sizes, so the population is well controlled. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas as a result of jellyfish blooms in spring and summer.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK seas, is the leatherback which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how to better protect them.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Project Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“For more than 17 years, beachgoers across the UK have been contributing to scientific research by sharing their wildlife sightings with us. It’s a key part of our work and plays a vital role in better understanding and protecting our ocean.”

In 2014, with partners from the University of Exeter, the Marine Conservation Society published the first paper from the survey data, confirming key information about UK jellyfish and including the first distribution maps of the surveyed species.

Since the 2014 paper, the wildlife sightings project has recorded notable events such as massive and extensive annual blooms of barrel jellyfish and several summers of Portuguese Man o’ War mass strandings.

The charity continues to run its wildlife sightings project to see what happens to the distribution and frequency of mass jellyfish blooms over time. The data will help to explore any links jellyfish blooms have with big-picture factors such as climate change.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2021 suggest that compass jellyfish are the most common around UK shores, making up 36% of reported sightings.

Jellyfish species Percentage of sightings reported
Compass jellyfish 36%
Moon jellyfish 17%
Lion’s mane jellyfish 15%
Barrel jellyfish 14%
Blue jellyfish 9%
Portuguese Man o’ War 6%
Mauve stinger 2%
By the wind sailor 1%

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

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