Louise is a true island mermaid, a full time TCI resident, a tireless TCSPCA volunteer and all around good human :) She certified with Flamingo Divers 10 years ago and we love when she jumps on board with us! Her commitment to animal welfare, both above and underwater, is inspiring (click the link in the bio to read her thoughts on Dolphin/Whale captivity) and her excitement and passion for the underwater world and its inhabitants its creatures is evident each time she dives with us. She's also really funny - read what she has to say about her 'introduction to diving'! She persevered through some personal fears and now dives full of gratitude and joy ~ if you're ever underwater with her when she sees dolphin, that joy is unmistakable and contagious :) See you on the boat soon, Louise!
Name: Louise James
Day Job: I have two hats.......Animal Welfare Volunteer (TCSPCA), Wedding/Portrait Album Designer
Certification Level: Open Water
How many years I’ve been diving: Since 2009
Favorite dive buddy: My husband Craig is my favourite dive buddy. However as I was 'forced' by him into diving as a very unwilling/terrified participant at first I wasn't too keen on even him as a dive buddy for a long time. I have since forgiven him!
As Craig is presently conducting his own diving hiatus at present both Mickey and Jayne are my 'go to' underwater buddies these days.
Do you own your own dive gear? Yes, and sometimes I even remember to put the weights in my BCD!
How often do you dive? Not as much as I would like to! After a 3 year hiatus (read this as laziness) I'm back in the water this summer! I have about 4 dives under my belt so far this year, with plans to do many more! I'm a fair weather diver so generally dive during the summer months when the water is warmer, and I don't have to wear a wetsuit.
How long have you been a ‘Flamingo Diver’? Since May 2009
My Favorite TCI Dive site is: Sandbore Channel
My Favorite thing to see on a dive is: DOLPHINS!
Macro or Big Stuff? Can I say both?! I love being an observer and watching the larger reef life pass me by, it's always fascinating and beautiful, but there's a greater sense of satisfaction spotting a tiny face, or beautifully patterned creature peeping out of the coral at you.
Top of my marine life bucket list? Humpback whale or whale shark. Although I do believe that actually seeing either of these things on a dive will have me blowing bubbles at both ends.
If i had one dive trip to choose anywhere in the world I would go: Nowhere else but the waters of the TCI! That may seem boring to a lot of people, to the more adventurous folk who dive all around the world, but I'll try and explain why. I lived through a lot of moments of abject terror to get comfortable enough to even get in the water at first. I did not want to learn to dive, and successfully managed to avoid it for the first two years of life in Turks and Caicos. I was so petrified at the idea of diving that I was physically sick. Then, after one martini too many one night, and brimming with false bravado I agreed to 'give it a go'. My husband jumped at the opportunity and within a week I was doing my online certification. I couldn't sleep the night before my first open water dive, and that morning I felt sick to my stomach, my hands were clammy, and I couldn't even talk to anyone on the boat. At the dive site I was kitted up, and stood at the back of the boat about to do a giant stride entry, and I froze in fear. I was on the verge of tears. I heard Nikki, my dive instructor, whisper to my husband "We have to get her in the water now before she changes her mind". I was about to bottle it! At that exact moment the most spectacular flock of bright pink flamingos flew over the boat. We were anchored just off of West Caicos, and to this day I have never seen a single flamingo out there, let alone a whole flock! This flamboyance of flamingos broke the grip of fear on me for a split second, enough so that when I was tapped on the shoulder, I just jumped! And once I was in the water, I was absolutely fine. So for me, the waters of the TCI may be the only place I ever dive. I learned to dive here, I have only been diving here, and I'm most comfortable in the water here! Plus... it's not too shabby down there either, so I don't feel like I'm missing out!
Favorite thing about the sport of diving: What's not to love?! It's an early morning start, on a beautiful day, being out in nature, with awesome like minded people. There's a meditative quality to diving.... it's the ultimate way to literally immerse yourself in another world, breathe deeply and cleanse the soul. Having been so terrified of diving for so long, now literally everything about it brings me joy. I'm so grateful that I was able to overcome my fears because a whole new world has been opened up to me that would otherwise have only been seen on TV. The best thing about diving is that I now have proof that there are huge benefits to pushing through your fears, and that if you're lucky enough there is real beauty and peace on the other side.
Favorite dive moment to date: Seeing a mother and calf dolphins cruise by for the first time.... wild and free as nature intended. Jayne is well aware of my obsession with dolphins, and on this particular dive she saw me take off like I had an outboard motor strapped to my back. I had no idea I could swim so fast.....! Jayne caught up with me, and we both watched the mother and baby cruise by, surface for a breath, and disappear into the deep blue. We turned to each other smiling with hands on hearts. She knew, I knew.... it was a moment.
What marine life environmental cause is near and dear to your heart (ie, plastic garbage, over fishing, captive mammals, whaling, shark finning or?)
All of the above. The environmental issue closest to my heart is the inhumane practice of keeping cetaceans in captivity. I believe there is no greater cruelty than depriving a cetacean of its' natural environment.
Taking away the freedom of such sentient beings is beyond cruel, and it is completely unnecessary.
There is no educational benefit to be gained from keeping orcas, dolphins, belugas etc in captivity, and even less in making them perform like circus clowns.
Although the tide of public opinion is slowly changing on this issue, it is not happening fast enough.
Orcas, like Lolita, who has been kept in an illegal tank at Miami Seaquarium since 1970, deserve to be returned to their home waters and live out their days feeling the natural rhythms of the tides. I believe that the creation of sea sanctuaries into which these beautiful creatures can be released is the only way forward. I sincerely hope that this generation is the last that will have to endure such cruelty all in the name of 'entertainment'.
Diving is my happy place because:
I can leave my phone behind......