We first met Liz Sandeman in her shop in central London, and were surprised to discover her passion for marine wildlife and the fact that it lead her to her sport of diving.
Here's her story:-
Tell us your name, what you do and how old you are.
My name is Liz Sandeman, born in 1959 I am 54 years of age. I love travelling and socialising. Although my main occupation is as manager of a shop in central London, I also help run a campaigning charity relating to whale and dolphin issues worldwide on a voluntary basis.
Tell us a bit about your website, Marine Connection.
Marine Connection is a London-based charity that I helped to co-found many years ago. I am very passionate about the marine environment; especially dolphins and whales. The charity has a website (www.marineconnection.org) which is updated regularly, giving details of our projects, campaigns and cetacean news in general. The Marine Connection website is recognised in the field as an excellent educational/awareness tool for anyone interested in cetaceans, with hundreds of regular viewers on a daily basis. Marine Connection also has its own Facebook social media page.
Your involvement with the creatures goes a lot further than a 'paper-based' involvement, you do diving trips etc. Tell us a bit about those, where you go, what they involve etc
I started diving some years ago. My interest in the marine environment grew after my first meeting with a wild dolphin called Fungie in the South-West of Ireland in 1991, since then I have been fortunate to travel worldwide to see and interact with marine mammals in various locations including Monterey Bay, Belize, Mexico and Hawaii. I have had the privilege of being in the water with various cetacean species; from humpback and pilot whales to, of course the more commonly known, bottlenose dolphin. My holidays usually involve diving and watching marine mammals and early in 2013 I fulfilled a life-long ambition to spend time with the wild orcas in Iceland. More recently I went diving with whale sharks in Mexico for the first time – their size and gentleness filled me with awe, made me feel humble but was a magical experience.
How long have you been diving, how did it start?
After spending so much time watching marine life from boats and on the shoreline, I decided to take the plunge to experience them in their own environment. Approximately 10 years ago I took my first diving lesson in Egypt. Since then, one of my most memorable experiences was diving with Manta rays in the Maldives - which has one of the largest ray colonies in the world.
Had you had much/any participation in sporting activity prior to that?
Not hugely, I have never been a sporty person apart from cycling when I was much younger.
Does the diving make many physical demands?
As long as you don’t have any serious illnesses, diving is good for most people. You have to be fit though and prepared to carry tanks on your back as people sometimes are not aware of just how heavy they are – they may be weightless in the water but it is a different story having to walk out of the water with one on! I think diving also gives you a great sense of peace, and provided that you are not one to panic in the water, there is no other feeling like it – it is quite literally like floating in inner space.
Do you do anything to meet those demands? Would you consider doing anything in order to prolong your ability to dive?
As I am getting older I try to keep myself a bit fitter in general but that doesn’t always happen (more due to my loathing of the gym than anything else).
Are there any benefits to you, outside the diving, of the fitness you get from diving?
None that I can think of currently although I do believe it can help with stress levels and also breathing.
What do you like/love about it?
I love everything to do with diving, from being on the boat going out to the dive site, to meeting new people with whom I have a mutual interest - the marine environment; and then of course the ultimate love - being in the water with all those magnificent marine creatures.