South Carolinians dive with sharks during advanced SCUBA training in the Bahamas
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Global expedition leader Tom Mullikin of Camden, South Carolina-based Global Eco Adventures (GEA) trained and graduated three new specialist SCUBA divers through GEA’s unique “Ninja Diver Shark Awareness” program off Nassau, earlier this month.
The program – designed to educate SCUBA divers and other marine-exploration enthusiasts about sharks, the nature of sharks, shark habitats, and the diversity and numbers of shark populations worldwide – incorporates intermediate and advanced SCUBA diving and shark diving skills with martial-arts breathing techniques (which is why the title, “ninja diver”) to better enable divers operating in potentially dangerous waters.
“It’s a unique combination which has proven to be extremely effective,” says Mullikin; GEA’s founding president, the ninja-diver course developer and the dive instructor conducting the training in the Bahamas, July 6-9, 2018. “This 15-hour course and subsequent certification involves extensive training in martial arts breathing exercises – also taught at the Mullikin Martial Arts Studio in Camden – which allows students to better control their breathing while operating for an extended period of time in open water, underwater.”
Mullikin adds, “This is particularly important when diving in confined spaces such a shipwrecks, or in the presence of sharks – which are sometimes unpredictable (as is any predatory creature) – and in other potentially dangerous albeit beautiful undersea environs where controlling and managing your breathing is critically important. Our students receive verification as Ninja Divers in addition to their certification under the International Accreditation.”
Those completing the course include: Greg Truesdale (from Elgin, S.C.), a government affairs representative for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina; Matthew Truesdale (also of Elgin), a high school senior and outdoor enthusiast with an interest in learning more about the environment and the aquatic marine ecosystems; and Peter Stonefield from Charleston, S.C.
Stonefield – who early in his career worked on the Space Shuttle fleet in support of NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – went on to work as a senior engineer at TWA, followed by a stint with the FAA. He was responsible for opening the Chinese market for several companies and his was one of the first companies to begin repair development activities in that country. In 2007, Stonefield developed and created Asia-Pacific Engineering Consulting Services.
All three graduates of the 2018 GEA Ninja Diver Shark Awareness Class did so “to expand their passion for learning and education opportunities about the Caribbean Reef Sharks,” says Mullikin.
Accompanying Mullikin were Thomas Mullikin, Jr., who like his father is also an accomplished diver and global explorer, and GEA’s Brant Tomlinson who arranged and helped facilitate the educational dive trip to Nassau.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, GEA was established “to create awareness of environmental sustainability through education of protected areas that are considered natural phenomena with exceptional aesthetic importance and fragile ecosystems for future generations.” Among GEA’s projects and sub-organizations is the Shark Institute which conducts field research aimed at protecting shark populations worldwide. As part of that research, GEA prepares men and women who – in that research – are capable of diving with sharks and spending appreciable time in shark environs, feeding sharks, observing sharks, and recording shark patterns and activities.
Among the Shark Institute’s researchers, explorers and instructors is world-renowned shark expert Bryan Andrew Keller, who has been featured on numerous documentaries like BBC’s “Shark” and “Alien Sharks: Stranger Fins.”
For more information, visit http://globalecoadventures.org.