Nicky is a PADI Divemaster Trainee based in Hull, UK. But if you check her website Nemo Ocean Conservation, you’ll see she describes herself as “an ocean conservationist on a mission to save our oceans and educate others”. With the help of friends, family and colleagues at 100% AWARE Dive Center Scuba Dream At Eight Acre Lake, Nicky is raising awareness of marine conservation issues among those in the community who may not have otherwise learnt about the pressing need to save the ocean.
Through social media, school talks, community clean up events and art projects (below!) Nicky shows what it means to Stand Up for the Ocean and use our voices to create a culture of conservation. We caught up with her to understand what drives her action, how she engages with her community and the vision she holds for the future of our shared ocean.
Who are you, what is your diver certification and where are you based?
Hello ocean fish friends, my name is Nicky Nemo🐠 Smedley. I’m a passionate ocean advocate and scuba diver, my current cert is Rescue Diver but am in the middle of my Divemaster Training.
How did you get into diving?
I got into diving because I as a child I always had a curiosity about the ocean and what lives beneath, what I call the thin blue line. I needed to know because as a child I always thought going to the bottom of the ocean you would get to space. I’ve always been drawn to the water.
Why is saving the ocean important to you?
To me the ocean is nature itself, she is the life-source of the planet, provides everything and everyone the very essence for life to exist. The amazing, weird and wonderful creatures that call the blue world their home (some like the octopus deemed extra terrestrial) deserve to be protected because a lot of these have been in existence longer than human life.
To me this is why wanting to protect the oceans is so very important plus I thank her for every breath I exhale.
What issues are you most passionate about in conservation?
Although I love every aspect of the oceans and it’s many wonderful ecosystems, protecting and raising awareness for Sharks and Turtles is an area I am extra passionate about. These two very different species of animals have something in common yet are very different. These are on the edge of extinction and to educate and raise awareness about these two species is very important because not do they only give the ocean it’s identity and serve to keep the ecosystems in balance, they can give you the history and age of the oceans so to me they are an area I always try to push in conservation.
What ways are you engaging with your local community to raise awareness for marine conservation?
I spend a lot of time going into schools and speaking to young children and teenagers plus some of the adults who want to know more about the oceans, engaging with them and helping them understand why our oceans matter giving them an insight into the many different challenges creatures in the oceans face. I have a website I push with information and social media is a big tool. I also have a role at my local dive site where we have made changes to become more sustainable. It’s been difficult in lockdown but beach cleans get done regularly as we are lucky to live near the coast so anything found gets logged and we can assess the different areas in terms of how bad they are.
If you could ask the Torchbearer Community to do just one thing, what would it be?
If one question could be asked to the Torchbearer community, I would ask if they would help to promote and highlight a need to put more emphasis on inland and beach cleaning projects a bit like project Aware’s Dive Against Debris but for the land, because I believe by doing this it will engage non-divers and their families giving them more opportunity to help and be involved. Giving it a name and making it like Project AWARE would also provide more of an incentive for people to get involved because they will feel like they are making a difference contributing to keeping land and beaches clean.
What is your vision for the future of our ocean?
Going forward my vision is to have more education put in place not just for young children and students but for everyone that wants to learn as it does impact us all. Conservation comes from education and it’s the biggest and most powerful tool we can promote going forward for change to happen. Having been in schools and looking at the UK curriculum, I’m aware that there’s very little about the ocean, yet the oceans effect every single living thing on this planet and to me that speaks volumes! Marine education deserves to be put high on the agenda considering every second breath we breathe comes from her. A vision of more education inspiring people to want to protect what literally keeps us all healthy and because it matters to care.