There is something so extraordinary about the ocean. The way it mesmerizes you as you watch each wave crash on the surface. The sheer ferocity and power in something so beautiful, both terrifying and captivating all at once. The ocean can toss us around as we panic at the mercy of its strength. But as that wave crashes over us we find ourselves suddenly underwater, and it is calm and quiet. The light shines through the surface and it is nearly impossible to feel anything but thankful. Thankful for the simple fact that we were able to witness this moment of pure peace. The world above has faded away, our troubles have faded away, and we look around to learn about a completely new world. Foreign and bewildering but so very wonderful. Calling out to be explored and discovered, and finding its call answered as women from all over the globe dive its caves, swims its reefs, and stand toe-to-fin with remarkable creatures who get to call this biosphere home.
The term scuba diver leads most to picture a man in a wetsuit with a snorkel mask on his face and an oxygen tank on his back, but those who see this miss out on the incredible, inspirational women who dominate the diving community and will continue to do so. Sylvia Earle is a well-renowned marine biologist and underwater explorer. At the age of 83, she continues to carry out her passion for diving as well as marine conservation. She was 16 when she first began exploring the ocean, back when the only training for scuba was simply being told to “breathe naturally”. She has spoken of fish she sees on her dives and the different personalities, faces, and characteristics that makes each animal unique but mostly the beauty of the world below the surface. She loves diving so much that she has spent over 6,000 hours underwater navigating the oceans terrain and discovering not only about the animals living in it, but about herself. She continues to voice her desire for everyone to dive regardless of their age or gender.
A free diver gets its name due to the minimal amount of gear worn when diving. Chelsea Yamase shows us as many of her photos capture her in a bikini swimming effortlessly in the deep blue. Freeing and liberating, she has stated for her, “it’s like a type of meditation”. One morning she set out in hopes to get her daily dose of reflection. The water was quiet with not much sign of wildlife. Disappointed, she decided to head back to shore when suddenly Yamase found herself in an experience she said she will never forget. Out of nowhere, thousands of dolphins had surrounded her. Gracefully they swam as she weaved between them almost as part of the pod. Together they swayed so peaceful, so transcendent, it was spellbinding. It could make you forget you were even holding your breath. I could not think of a more tranquil form of meditation.
Off the coast of northern Oahu, I had set out one afternoon with nothing but a snorkel mask. I entered the water from shore only seeing small fish in small quantities at first. As I swam out further, one fish became two and two became ten. The next thing I knew I was descending into the center of a school of hundreds. Watching as their scales glistened from the sunlight beaming above. They danced around me for what felt like hours and I surrendered to this feeling of overwhelming serenity. Every muscle, every bone, and every cell in my body resonated with all life in the ocean at that moment. I was a part of something else. A force, a power that I am not sure I could ever describe, but I truly hope every single person can experience for themselves through diving.
For a long time, men have reigned number one in all forms of ocean sport whether it be scuba or free diving. But a new era is coming, the era of the female diver. Both Earle and Yamase as well as countless others continue to show us what they are made of and just how far we all can go if we believe in ourselves. Diving can be hard work, but the truly amazing thing is that if you love what you are doing, it never feels like work. They all started with no knowledge of diving, just like any one of us. All these women had was a little elbow grease and a passion for being captivated by the beauty of the ocean . A passion that is deeper than the ocean.
About the writer:
This is Sharada's Darbhamulla debut blog. Sharada grew up in Gilroy, CA about an hour and a half south of San Francisco. She joined the army at the age of 17 and became a medic. She had the lucky opportunity to be stationed in Hawaii for 3 ½ years on the beautiful Island of Oahu. Currently, she lives in El Paso, TX and does freelance writing on the side. She has a particular passion for articles pertaining to animal and habitat conservation. Sharada hopes to one day do marketing and event coordinating for a non-profit organization that supports elephant or marine conservation.
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