How I wish I was a fish

I remember the first summer my parents took my sister & I to Florida.


I think I must have only been about 8 years old. My parents took us to their friends house near Sarasota. They had a pool at their house. Being the age I was, that’s all I cared about. I don’t know if I said two words to anyone, I just swam.

Swam until my fingers and toes were so pruney that my dad had to tell me to get out and drink tons of water and actually eat something.

You know the song from Finding Dory? “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

I’m almost convinced I came up with it first.

(Pixar, if you’re reading this – relax, I know you were the master minds, not me.)


A few years ago now my mom decided her & I were going to get PADI certified for SCUBA diving.

We did all our course work and pool dives within one weekend.

We would practice breathing through our regulators in the shallow end of the pool, and I kept standing up out of the water. It’s a strange feeling to be able to breath under water… It didn’t make sense to me, even having all that equipment. It also felt very different. Even though you’re clearly breathing under water, at first it feels like you can’t.

I remember having multiple freak outs during our first few pool dives. I was terrified. We were only in like a 4m deep pool! How the hell (sorry) was I supposed to go into the ocean?

By the end of the weekend, I was so comfortable under water that I would take my reg out of my mouth and blow kisses to my mom! Once you get the hang of it, breathing under water is such an incredible feeling.

Mom & I are beach bums. So while the majority of our class did their open water dives in Lake Chaparral (I think… I don’t actually remember for sure so this could be incorrect), which is a super cold lake in southern Calgary with like zero visibility… Mom & I were like “ya no, we’re not doing that” so… we went to Florida!

I got PADI certified with my Open Water Diver cert in the place where my love for the ocean blossomed.

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Celebratory “we’re certified” selfie!


Today, I am PADI certified with my Advanced Open Water Diver cert. I gained the “Advanced” part during a *Reach Out Volunteers program, in Cambodia.

With this certification, I have been able to see things that live on this planet that are outside of the realm of what we’d call “normal”. I’ve seen more fish than I can count or identify. Invertebrate species that look nothing like what I learned about in uni. Coral reefs that create an entirely new world under the water.

I feel like I’ve seen magic in its true form… & I only have like 22 dives total so far.

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I didn’t yet have my fancy Action Cam in 2015 to capture images during our dives – but this is near where I stayed in Cambodia


Since being in the Philippines for about 2 months, I’ve participated in 2 marine survey’s, some fun dives & have been able to rack up about… 15-ish dives already.

Needless to say I’m extremely lucky… This is exactly the type of place I want to be. A dive-worthy archipelago… Yes please! I had a good friend recently say to me “I feel like you were meant to live there”. Not sure if I was able to translate to him, just how much that little sentence meant to me.

I think he’s right… I am currently living on an island, surrounded by other islands that are just waiting for me to get there for some dives. Oh also, it doesn’t snow here or fall below like 25 degrees Celsius. Consider that a major bonus for a beach bum like me!

Dive sites in the Philippines so far:

  1. Igang Bay Marine Sanctuary in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
  • Marine survey determining the rehabilitation status of an MPA established 10 years ago

While Guimaras is not the most ideal dive spot due to poor visibility, it was my first dive site in the Philippines. So it will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Big foliose coral with some lion fish hanging out nearby in the marine sanctuary 

2. Olongo reef near Nalusuan island in Cebu

  • Fun dive with spectacular hosts & friends! 🙂

Cebu is one of the most recommended places for some wicked dives in the Philippines & it held true to its name. We did 2 drift dives in this MPA, where we saw smart car size groupers (slight exaggeration but still huge fish), tons of butterfly fish, parrot fish & I even saw 2 barracuda’s!

The visibility was at least 30m. Upon our descent I was literally singing “It’s a whole new world” from Aladdin… Then started singing “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid once we saw a real live mermaid (in statue form lol)!

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This is me during one of two dives we did in the MPA near Mactan, Cebu. Photo red: Meagan Bernier.

3. Taklong National Marine Reserve

  • Marine survey in which I was taught how to lay a transect & was trained in completing coral assessments using the Point Intercept Transect (PIT) method
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Sea snake!

This marine reserve is composed of over 80 islands. Some areas are really amazing sites with good visibility, others… Not so much. Luckily, we had the locals showing us the best spots. You just have to know where the rivers are, and avoid those dive spots 😛

During the dives I was fortunate enough to participate in, I saw angelfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish galore. I even saw a sea snake and moray eel… Little scary, but awesome nonetheless.

After seeing what can hardly be called even a glimpse of what the Philippines has to offer in regards to marine life, I find myself craving for more amazing dive experiences! Oh, how I wish I was a fish…

I have a giant list of all the places I have to go diving before I leave here… If I ever leave here. Which right now, I don’t even want to. It’s more fun in the Philippines, remember?

*Reach Out Volunteers is an excellent organization with a ton of great programs. I participated in the Marine Conservation program, which give you the opportunity to complete you Open Water diving cert, or higher if you’re already certified! Visit this link to learn more & sign up for one of these programs so you can see for yourself!

www.rovolunteers.com

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