Saving sharks

Alisha Shinde
Monday, 23 April 2018

Disney’s Ariel ruled most of our imagination as kids where we wanted to be mermaids swimming in the depths of the sea with some amazing ocean creatures.

Disney’s Ariel ruled most of our imagination as kids where we wanted to be mermaids swimming in the depths of the sea with some amazing ocean creatures.

A UK-based youngster who dresses like a mermaid to create awareness about sharks and saving them, says that being a mermaid was her dream too. However, she had given upon it to focus on a ‘real life’. “I came to realise during my teenage years that I was not comfortable in water and gave up on swimming activities for years because of a psychological block,” says the girl who calls herself Deepsea. She realised a few years ago that being a mermaid was actually possible. She then gave wings to her childhood fantasy through extreme sport discipline and pushed her limits to make it happen.

This fantasy-meets-reality soon got a direction. Deepesea says that she had once gone scuba diving with Sand Tiger sharks in an aquarium without a cage. “I was so impressed by how majestic these animals were,” because of which she started researching on them but soon figured that sharks had a really bad reputation mostly because of some movies. She then became a member of a charity project in the UK called the Shark Trust which raises awareness for the protection of sharks and fights for the implementation of limits on overfishing of different shark species in the UK and Europe. Deepsea participated in various events, dressed as a mermaid to help gather funds for the cause.

“Then I went to diving sites and started getting myself used to working with sharks — I wanted to find a way to attract people’s attention, and make them think of sharks differently by doing what they see as impossible: pictures with sharks in the ocean,” she adds.

Since sharks suffer a bad reputation because they are not as cute as polar bears or other animals that are being protected, every time she spoke to people about the need to conserve sharks, they reminded her of the latest shark attacks. “But what people don’t know is that over 100 million sharks are killed every year for different reasons like medicine creation, cooking delicacies  and more,” she says, adding that as apex predators, sharks are essential for a balanced ecosystem and need to be protected as much as every other animal.

Deepsea says that being a mermaid is not entirely like a fairytale since there are many dangers involved in this activity. “Getting these pictures clicked is extremely difficult,” she says, adding that to stay underwater, she needs to use weights, stay calm, and be safe.

She also mentions that the photographer has to get the right picture when the sharks are around and also make sure that they are all safe. “Pia Oyarzun who came up with the Made in Water project is one such photographer. She has accumulated a lot of experience with sharks over the years. Her photographs are therefore amazing,” she adds.

When asked what she loves about her job, the mermaid girl says, “It’s amazing to feel like you are part of the underwater world and understand the functioning of that ecosystem.” 

She adds that participating in events as a mermaid has helped her realise the dream of many children who meet her and give priceless expressions on seeing a mermaid.

Pic: Pia Oyarzún

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