Written by: Cassandra Martin
In great celebration of International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to the great strides women
have made through social, economic, and political movements I would like to pay tribute to all of the exceptional females who have and are continuing to make a greater contribution to the underwater community. The original members of the diving community bravely paved the way for the present female influence on global marine and underwater education. The Women Divers Hall of Fame celebrates the pioneers, leaders, innovators, and world record holders throughout the international diving community. Pioneer Susan Trukken set standards high for both women and men in 1980 when she graduated as the first female special operations officer at the Naval School of Diving and Salvage in Washington DC. When compiling research in the naval document “Equipment Development for the Fleet” Trukken began her research document regarding first-hand knowledge about the primitive diving technology used by saying “Experience is a great teacher…”
Thirty six years later women continue to master their skills using the same mantra. Pushing boundaries in competitive diving women are also making waves in freediving world records. Recently Mandy-Rae Cruickshank of Canada reached a depth of 289 feet in two minutes and 48 seconds off of the Cayman Islands using no weights and a single breath A technique freedivers categorize as “constant ballast.” Competitive freediving came out of the woodwork’s in the late 1940’s and while a fairly new sport its’ growth has thus far been exponential. The practice of diving on a single breath of air can be dated back thousands of years. Japanese women known as “Ama” meaning “sea woman” used this same practice to collect pearls over two thousand years ago.
Along with intensive competitive diving women are making major contributions to oceanic research. The Marine Megafauna Foundation was founded by Andrea Marshall in 2008 she was the first person worldwide to receive a PhD in Manta Ray studies. She is involved in innovative research, education, and legislation constantly striving to advocate for the protection of our oceans. At age 12 Andrea became a certified diver and was originally interested in being a shark conservationist however upon her first encounter with Manta Rays on a vacation to Mozambique she uncovered her true calling. She began conducting research which lead to the discovery that there are two different types of Manta Rays, Pelagic Birostris Manta Rays and Coastal Alfredi Manta Rays (the coastal species we encounter in Kona!) earning her the title “Queen of the Mantas.” In Andrea Marshall’s promotional video for the Marine Megafauna Foundation she passionately says “To know that our efforts are making a difference, to actually see that momentum is what keeps us going, is what keeps us fighting here.” This type of conviction appears again and again in the underwater world. To learn more about how to become involved with Andrea Marshall visit www.marinemegafauna.org. To all of you underwater women I would like to say Congratulations and thank you for taking upon our greatest challenges, here at Kona Honu Divers we celebrate and thank you!