Friday, July 13, 2007

Scuba Diving Is For Girls

By, DA instructor One Fish

A couple of years ago a woman was signing her husband up for an open water class. I overheard a diver (who should have known better) tell her that she didn’t need to worry about enrolling herself in the class because “diving is really a guy thing anyway.” Outraged, I decided that I must make it my mission to put this horrible rumor to death. I began researching women divers around the world and I was impressed with many of their awesome feats. Here are the stories of just a few of the many famous females who have left their mark on the diving world.

Dr. Sylvia Earle b. August 30, 1935, is an pioneering aquanaut, oceanographer, marine explorer, marine botanist, ecologist, and acclaimed writer. She has been nicknamed “Her Deepness” and the “sturgeon general” because of her many underwater exploits and the lasting effect she has had on the diving and aquatic world. Dr. Earle’s love affair with the ocean began at an early age. Earle often recounts: “I was swept off my feet by a wave when I was three and have been in love with the sea ever since.” “Even as a child I was lured into the sea by the creatures who live there: horseshoe crabs on the New Jersey beaches; starfish and sea urchins in the Florida Keys; and everywhere strange and wonderful forms of life that occur only underwater. It was and is irresistible.” Earle made her first scuba dive at the age of seventeen while attending college at Florida State. Sylvia specialized in botany so that she could properly study and understand underwater ecology. She used scuba diving to become an underwater explorer and spent hours observing aquatic life. Later in her education, Earle presented one of the most detailed first-hand studies of aquatic plant life. When Sylvia Earle first began her career, she met resistance. Many people were against women traveling with men on scientific expeditions. Earle overcame these obstacles with her many accomplishments and unrivaled tenacity. Since the start of her career Dr. Earle has led more than 60 expeditions worldwide, and spent over 7000 hours underwater in connection with her research. Earle has been an explorer in residence with the National Geographic society since 1998 and led

“Go get wet, because once you know about something, once you see what’s there, it will make a big difference. Dive in!” -Sylvia Earle

a five year program to study the National Marine Sanctuary system. Earle has pioneered research on underwater ecosystems and is an avid activist for the underwater world. She was named Time magazine’s first “hero for the planet” in 1998. She has followed whales and sharks, studied plants, and walked unteathered underwater at a deeper depth than any other woman. When asked if she gets lonely underwater, Earle replies: “No way. The ocean is like diving into the history of life. You’re surrounded with it. In deep water all over the planet, it’s a light show all the time.” Nothing seems to get in the way of her making a connection with the ocean. Among Dr. Earle’s many accomplishments are her diving records. She led the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970 and holds a depth record for solo diving (1000 meters, 3300 feet). She has authored more than 100 publications concerning marine science and technology. She was inducted into the women’s hall of fame in 2000 and she shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. She believes we are heading into “the greatest era of exploration in human history” and is excited to be a part of exploring the 95% of undiscovered ocean still waiting for her. Dr. Earle says: “Going into the ocean is just such a joyous experience. I mean, you never know what you’re going to find but you know that it’s going to be something different and new every time.”

Susan Bangasser, Ph.D. made important observations and wrote articles on the physiological aspects of women divers during the late ‘70s and ‘80s. She co-authored Women Underwater, the first book about women and diving. Her work in the diving world has supported the safe diving of women around the globe and helped resolve issues and concerns for their safety.
Janet Bieser started diving in 1977. She has logged over 1000 dives and is an instructor for SSI, PADI, and a IANTD nitrox diver and an NSS-CDS Apprentice Cave Diver. In 1981 Janet became the first woman to dive the Republic and the second to dive the Andrea Doria. She is an experienced trimix diver, avid spearfishermen, and heavy salvage diver. Her 100-ton Master Captain’s license allows her to captain the R/V Wahoo and manage Custom Breathing Media in Rocky Point, NY.

“In deep water all over the planet, it’s a light show all the time.” -Sylvia Earle

Dr. Eugenie Clark is an ichthyologist with a special interest in sharks. She has been called “the shark lady” because of her extensive work with them. She has conducted 71 deep submersible dives. Her latest research projects concern the behavior of tropical sand fishes and deep sea sharks. She has received numerous awards for her work in the ocean. She is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Maryland.

Evelyn Bartram Dudas has been diving the wrecks off the East Coast since 1961. Evelyn is an active wreck and cave diver and owns her own dive facility while raising four children on her own. She was the first woman to dive the Andrea Doria, one of the first women to use mixed gasses in diving, and also launched her own custom wet suit company. She continues to teach diving today.

Jill Heinerth is a master instructor and teaches Trimix, Rebreather and Technical Cave diving. She is an underwater photographer and she is also the editor and founder of the magazine Women Underwater. She has participated in cave exploration projects around the world. Jill serves on the board of directors for the US Deep Caving Team.

June Kieser started diving in 1952 with her husband. She became a volunteer scuba instructor at the YMCA in 1954; served on the CNCA scuba committee; the first woman nationally certified instructor in 1959; the first female member of the YMCA National Scuba Committee; founding member Underwater Society of America and the American Littoral Society. She helped to create standards for diver and instructor certification. June instructed all different people from sport divers to police, fire departments, and US Merchant Marine Academy cadets.

While researching all of these women, there were many others that I found. If you would like to read about more female divers please visit the women diver’s hall of fame at:

For all of those women who are considering diving for the first time, Sylvia Earle has some advice for you: “Go get wet, because once you know about something, once you see what’s there, it will make a big difference. Dive in!”


Post a Comment