Fiji's Diving Pioneers

July 17, 2022

Fiji's Diving Pioneers

Our lives, in this modern world of year 2022, can be so fast-paced and filled with such high expectations that it is possible we neglect to see the true value of gifts presented to us throughout our lives, or we miss realising their value altogether because we are faced with such busy-ness every day. The ‘noise’ that is presented to us in every waking moment through social media, TV, advertising – online and on buses, shop windows – everywhere we look - on our phones and computers and now even on our wrist bands, we have that constant buzz with reminders and messages: with this overloading of our senses, how easy it is for us to forget what is important. With You-tube, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and the list goes on…. when do we even get time to think? 

For me, that time has been when I am submerged within the liquid crystal world of Mother Ocean, mesmerised by her unparalleled beauty, enraptured by her inhabitants – manta rays, eagle rays, nudibranchs, octopus, cuttlefish, sharks, whales, crustaceans – the list is endless, and the environment is unlike any other! The silence and the weightlessness – the wonder of being in a 3- dimensional world – like being in outer space – my parents have always called it ‘inner space’ is dream-like, therapeutic and totally absorbing in every moment! 

I would like to pay tribute to the two people - David and Lorraine Evans, scuba diving pioneers of the Fiji Islands - who have given me my greatest gifts in life.  They gave me the gift of life itself (my mother was only 21 and my father was 23 when I was born in Fiji) – and they gave me the amazing, life-long gift of exploring the tropical underwater world of Fiji (and, of course, other countries too). It is estimated that two thirds of our beautiful planet Earth is covered by water, and to explore the ‘blue’ portion of our planet more effectively, scuba diving is a gift that many may never get to experience in their lifetime. 

I love so much that we call our planet the ‘Blue Planet’ – it makes perfect sense since we humans are so reliant on our oceans, seas, rivers, creeks, lakes, marshes, ponds, mangroves, and waterways for our very existence – herein the greatest gift of all – the gift of water, without which we could not survive. 

Why then, has it taken so long for us as an intelligent species to realise the value of concepts such as conservation, sustainability, preservation of our natural world, protection of our plants and animals and our environment above and below water? When I first started Lady of the Sea Diving Academy in Canberra in 1991-1992 conservation was still a ‘dirty’ word. Despite my strong ethics in that direction, I could not utter this word in my diving facility without losing clients to the competition, or being branded a ‘greenie’, a ‘tree hugger’ or a ‘radical environmentalist’. There was money to be made selling spear guns and fishing equipment and I am happy to say that I built my business from the ground up without the single sale of a gun, fishing net or fishing rod. My fledgling dive academy in its early days needed all the business I could muster to survive – not losing clients to the opposition, one of which was a long-time dive operation and the first and largest operation in the state, was crucial to the survival of Lady of the Sea Diving Academy. 

Behind the scenes, while building my scuba diving academy, I would work with secrecy and stealth to educate my divers about what we had to lose. I remember almost forcing my clients to read Captain Paul Watson’s book ‘Ocean Warrior’, and if they could face it – showing them what was happening in the Faeroe Islands close to Norway where the sea ran red with the blood of our precious cetaceans, their families and their high intelligence levels put aside for blood sport in the guise of culture and tradition. 

Many of you have not had the privilege to meet my parents, but it is to them I pay tribute by dedicating my life to the conservation and protection of our underwater realms. I have done this for over 40 years by introducing the general public to the wonders beneath the oceans’ surface, and helping ocean goers, free divers, scuba divers, bubble makers and even those unable to scuba or free dive, to understand the delicate nature of our aquatic ecosystems and the delicate and precious lives within. 

Those who have found their true calling in life know how incredibly valuable a gift it is to be able to spend a lifetime sharing your obsession with everyone who comes into contact with you. The fact that sharing my gift also helps to increase the quality of other people's lives and in turn helps them to understand the importance of preserving our aquatic realm, is the true icing on the cake for me. 

Thank you will never be enough for two of the most significant people in my life who have given me my two greatest gifts – the gift of life itself and the gift of exploration of our truly magnificent underwater world!  

The whole philosophy of Lady of the Sea Diving Academy relates to increasing the quality of peoples’ lives through scuba diving while instilling in them all a deep love, respect and consequent desire to protect our natural world.  

No two people other than David and Lorraine could have given me these precious gifts that have filled my life with adventures and unique opportunities, and the capability to pass on my unparalleled obsession and share my love of the ocean with all whom I meet! Mother Ocean, and in particular Fiji diving, have been the most significant aspects of our lives and we would change it for nothing. 

This photograph was taken when Dave and Lorraine were introducing the magnificent diving of the Fiji Islands to the people of Canada – this diving pioneer couple spent decades of their lives sharing the underwater world with thousands of people from all over the world, an existence that I was lucky enough to be born into, giving me the opportunity to dedicate my life to Mother Ocean and all she holds within. 

 



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