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The 2015 Georgia Williams Diving Scholar announced

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After a campaign to find a special young person with a spirit of adventure, Immerse School of Diving have announced the 2015 Georgia Williams Diving Scholar.

Tom Edwards, aged 15 and from Wrekin College in Telford, was awarded the 2015 Georgia Williams Diving Scholarship after an arduous application process that showed his incredible passion for underwater conservation.

Tom submitted a clear application, and explained his interest for shark conservation during a lightning round of interviews with Steve Williams from the Georgia Williams Trust, Tony and Jo Flack from Immerse School of Diving, and last year’s Scholar Lois Adams and her family.

As the 2015 Georgia Williams Diving Scholar, Tom will have the chance to pursue an interest in the underwater World, and in turn to enable other young people to have access to scuba diving activities.  Tom will embark on a training programme to attain the prestigious PADI Master Scuba Diver rating with Immerse School of Diving in Telford.  In addition, Tom will experience a range of scuba diving experiences tailored to his interest in shark conservation, and will have a chance to meet some of the leading names within the scuba diving industry. Tom will also fulfil an advocacy role for the Trust, and will be responsible for raising awareness of the work of the Trust and its aims amongst young people in the Borough.

“When Steve announced that I was the Georgia Williams Diving Scholar for 2015, I felt an immediate adrenaline rush! I’ve wanted to get involved with marine biology for a number of years now, and Immerse School of Diving and the Georgia Williams Trust has provided a spectacular opportunity which will push me towards my dream,” says Tom Edwards.

But in a surprise moment, Steve Williams of the Trust also announced that the two runners-up in this year’s Scholarship selection would also be supported by the Trust to follow their underwater ambitions.

Through the application process Alix Tomlinson, 11 and of Crudgington Primary School, demonstrated a keen interest in learning to scuba dive which started when she saw divers returning from a dive with seals whilst on holiday. Alix was awarded a PADI Open Water Diver course to learn to dive with Immerse School of Diving.

George Ellison, 12, of Thomas Telford School, was shortlisted for the second year in the row, showing great tenacity.  George has a continued interest in pursuing a career as a marine biologist, and as a qualified diver received a full set of diving equipment to allow him to dive more often and gain important diving experience with the School’s dive club, Club Immerse.

The annual Scholarship is jointly funded by The Georgia Williams Trust and Immerse School of Diving. The Georgia Williams Diving Scholarship is also supported by BBC television presenter Monty Halls and dry suit manufacturer Otter Watersports.

“We are so pleased to have not one, but three remarkable young people for this year’s Scholarship programme.  Tom already has a great understanding of, and a passion for underwater conservation and a clear aim for his Scholarship year.  We are excited about the amazing opportunity this presents for Tom, and believe that he will make the very most of it.  For us to be help Alix become a scuba diver at only 11 years of age, and to see George take his passion for scuba diving further really is a privilege and the icing on the cake for the School and all of our divers,” said Tony Flack, Owner and Instructor, Immerse School of Diving.

For further information visit www.immersediving.com/the-georgia-williams-youth-diving-programme or contact Immerse School of Diving by emailing info@immersediving.com.  To follow Tom’s adventures as the 2015 Georgia Williams Diving Scholar, you can also follow his very own Facebook page here.

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Jeff chats to… Underwater Photographer Ellen Cuylaerts (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ellen Cuylaerts about her diving and underwater photographic career.

As an underwater and wildlife photographer, Fellow of The Explorers Club and having a front seat in exploration being part of the Flag and Honours Committee, Ellen is also a Member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She travels the world and tries to make the most of every destination and the path that leads her there. Ellen acts as an ocean citizen and believes as divers we should all be ocean ambassadors and lead by example. She is now based in the UK after many years in Grand Cayman.

Find out more about Ellen and her work at www.ellencuylaerts.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Huge thresher shark is the latest of six murals to be painted around the Solent this summer

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The murals celebrate the Solent’s extraordinary marine life – marking National Marine Week.

Secrets of the Solent have commissioned street artist ATM to paint a series of marine-themed artworks at various locations around the Solent this summer. The latest mural to be finished shows a thresher shark on the Langstone Harbour Office. Langstone Harbour is an important area for wildlife as well as a bustling seaside destination for sailing and water sports.

Artist ATM, who is painting all six murals, is well-known for his iconic wildlife street art. This, his second artwork of the series, took three days to paint freehand, from a scaffolding platform. The thresher shark was chosen out of six marine species to be the subject of the artwork by the local community, who were asked to vote via an online form or in person on the Hayling Ferry.

Secrets of the Solent hope the mural will become a landmark in Langstone Harbour and inspire visitors to learn more about this enigmatic oceanic shark. The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, works to celebrate and raise awareness of Solent’s diverse marine environment.

Aiming to highlight the exotic and unusual creatures found close to our coasts, artist ATM says: “I really enjoyed painting the thresher shark because it’s such an amazing looking animal, with a tail as long as its body. I hope when people see the murals, they will become more aware of what lives under the waves and the importance of protecting the vital habitats within the Solent.”

Dr Tim Ferrero, Senior Marine Biologist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says: “The thresher shark is a wonderful animal that visits our waters every summer. It comes to an area to the east of the Isle of Wight, and this appears to be where the sharks breed and have their young. Not many people know that we have thresher sharks in our region, and so having our mural here on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this mysterious ocean wanderer. I really hope that people will come away with the knowledge that the Solent, our harbours and our seas are incredibly important for wildlife.”

Rachel Bryan, Project Manager for Secrets of the Solent at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust comments: “We are really excited to have street artist ATM painting a thresher shark on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building. We chose this building because of its prominent location right on the entrance to Langstone Harbour so that anyone who’s visiting, whether that’s walkers, cyclists or people coming in and out of the harbour on their jet-skis or sailing boats, will all be able to see our thresher shark. People on the Portsmouth side of the harbour will also be able to see the mural from across the water.”

The thresher shark is a mysterious predator which spends most of its time in oceanic waters. It uses its huge whip-like tail as an incredibly effective tool for hunting its prey. Herding small fish into tight shoals, the shark will lash at them with its tail, stunning several in one hit and making them easier to catch.

Secrets of the Solent hope to work with the species this summer to discover more about its behaviour.

Dr Tim Ferrero explains: “Nobody really knows where thresher sharks go in the ocean. Later this summer we are hoping that we are going to be able to attach a satellite tag to a thresher shark and monitor its progress for an entire year. This will provide really important information that will help us learn so much more about the shark’s annual life cycle.”

The new thresher shark mural is a fantastic start to National Marine Week (24th July – 8th August), which celebrates the unique marine wildlife and habitats we have here in the UK. Over the two weeks, Wildlife Trusts around the country will be running a series of exciting events to celebrate the marine environment. We really hope people will be inspired by our murals and want to learn more about each chosen species.

Events in the Solent include the launch of a new Solent marine film on the 29th July, installation of a new Seabin on the 4th August to reduce marine litter, and citizen science surveys throughout summer.

For more information click here.

Header image: Bret Charman

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