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UK - Gardens of Great Britain: Restoring UK Seagrasses

THE WATER WAS BITTERLY COLD, SURFACE CONDITIONS WERE HORRIBLE, AND WE BOUNCED ALL OVER THE BOAT ON OUR WAY TO THE DEEP DIVE SITE.

Whilst putting on our dive kit we were thrown from side-to-side, struggling to put heavy equipment on our backs, I was slightly nervous about a deep dive. We were just a few miles off the Devon (UK) coast, where I had learnt to swim as a child. We jumped into the icy cold water and descended 30m into the abyss. As a child I’d stood on the beach looking out to sea and my assumption was there is nothing on the seabed but sand. As we descended, I expected to see bare sand, but instead, I saw deep rock gullies covered with life. Just 30m down off the coast of South Devon there was a rich variety of different colour sponges, thousands of brightly coloured anemones, hundreds of urchins slowly grazing on the algae covered rocks, with vibrant wrasse protectively guarding their nests. The ocean that had provided me with so much joy entertainment as a child was also the most unexpectedly beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

There is an assumption of British waters that there is not much down there, but nothing could be further from the truth – our coastal waters are some of the most productive fisheries on the planet. Landing statistics for British fish are very high in comparison to the rest of the world, so consider, where do those fish live? As divers we get to see that and as a conservationist it is my job to communicate this. My first deep dive changed my view of British waters and diving forever.

I was born in Plymouth in the mid-70s, and during that period there wasn’t a huge emphasis on environmental conservation or promotion of marine issues. The beach was somewhere we went, not as day out, but as just another environment to play in, like exploring the woods or moorlands around Plymouth. My friends and I spent pretty much every day on our bicycles, cycling to swimming spots in rivers and the ocean – we all grew up as water babies whether that be fresh, or salt water.

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