PADI AmbassaDiverTM Jillian Morris has devoted her life to selling and defending sharks. After snorkeling with a nurse shark as a toddler, Jillian was impressed to study extra concerning the ocean and the sharks who reside there. She studied behavioral biology and ultimately turned a PADI Divemaster and led shark-focused dive journeys. We caught up with Jillian throughout a video shoot with shark chew survivor and shark ambassador Mike Coots.
What impressed you to dedicate your life to sharks?
I didn’t know so much about sharks once I had my first encounter. After seeing one within the water, I noticed individuals don’t like them. All of the horror tales and horrible issues ignited my curiosity. As I spent extra time with them, I observed my tales weren’t what I used to be seeing within the media. They have been lovely! I needed to study increasingly, as a result of what I used to be experiencing was so totally different from what I used to be being informed.
From the time we’re very younger, we study we’re imagined to worry sharks, and we don’t essentially hear the fascinating, superb tales about this animal. In actuality, shark assaults are extraordinarily uncommon and hundreds of individuals spend time with them each single day on objective, however we don’t hear that aspect. Individuals simply fixate on the unfavourable.
How does being a Divemaster profit your work?
I began educating scuba as a result of I needed to introduce individuals to the world of sharks. If I can train scuba, I might help individuals be within the ocean and see these animals the best way that I’m seeing them. Even when they didn’t come to dive with sharks, they will study these animals and see they don’t should worry them. Hopefully they’ll take their photographs, their movies and their expertise again, and share it with family and friends.
Inform us concerning the Bahamas and why you're keen on Bimini.
It’s the right spot for filming, for conservation work, and for schooling. I’ve swam with sharks everywhere in the world, and there’s no place I’d relatively reside than Bimini. I can actually exit in my yard and be with sharks. It’s only a actually particular place.
How did you meet Mike Coots?
I used to be contacted to take Mike out to dive with – not simply sharks – however tiger sharks, the identical species he misplaced his leg to. I didn’t know what to anticipate.
First we did some free diving with lemon sharks – simply to get to know one another within the water. I actually needed to see his degree of consolation with [non-tiger] sharks and study slightly bit extra about his story and spend a while with him.
Mike, of all individuals, has each cause on the planet to not go within the water. However he was able to go diving not solely with sharks, however the kind of shark that took his leg and share that have with others. I feel that’s so highly effective, and I've a lot respect for him to have the ability to do this.
What was it just like the day Mike dove with tiger sharks?
We obtained up that morning, and Mike stated to me, “At present is the day, isn’t it?” I went, “Yeah.”
I feel everyone was excited that day. Every part got here collectively: lovely climate, crystal clear water, the tides have been proper, and there was simply this nice power.
I sat with Mike and I requested him how he was feeling. I might inform he was nervous, and rightfully so. He had completely each cause to be very, very nervous. However there was additionally a way of calm about him, as a result of I feel he knew this was one thing he wanted to do. This was a journey for him, and regardless that he was nervous, there was simply this sense of, alright, that is the time. That is what we’re right here to do, and that is the second, that is now, and we’re going for it.
As quickly as I slipped within the water, I noticed Emma, who's world well-known. When individuals go to Tiger Seashore, she’s the shark they need to see. Emma’s been on tv exhibits, she has her personal Twitter web page, and is an outstanding ambassador for sharks. Once I noticed her, I used to be so comfortable as a result of I understand how superb she is to dive with, and to have Mike be capable of see her was simply good.
How did Mike react to the sharks?
I’ve taken lots of people diving with sharks, however I’ve by no means had the chance to take a shark chew survivor within the water. First he was wanting by means of the digital camera, however then I watched him put it down and actually take all the things in. That’s particular. Oftentimes we get misplaced behind the digital camera, however he took a second to actually be there. You may see the enjoyment on his face. He was in awe.
Mike was nervous for positive, however when he made eye contact with a tiger shark, there was a connection, and that was simply lovely. It was one of the crucial superb underwater moments by far I’ve ever had.
How did the expertise have an effect on you?
After one of many dives, I heard Mike say, “That was probably the most unimaginable dive of my life.” Understanding I used to be a part of that have is simply so, so superb. It’s one thing I’ll cherish and use in my work to guard these animals, as a result of that’s what diving is all about – inspiring individuals to attempt issues that they’re afraid of, getting probably the most out of life.
I’ve had a variety of totally different experiences working with sharks all all over the world. Now, I've an entire new perspective. Seeing Mike within the water was extremely inspiring and for me it’s now one thing that I can take with me on my continued journey and hopefully encourage others. If he can do it, they will too, and it modifications the best way I can speak to individuals about sharks for the remainder of my life.
Need to dive deeper? Read our interview with Mike Coots. Watch our video about cage diving with great whites.
We hope you’ll share Mike’s expertise with others to assist present the constructive impression sharks can have. Defending sharks and different marine animals is one in every of PADI’s Four Pillars of Change, and PADI urges divers to guard marine life biodiversity and elevate voices to save lots of sharks by supporting Project AWARE and different organizations that work to teach the general public about sharks and advocate for his or her safety.
To comply with Jillian’s future adventures, join together with her on Facebook, and comply with her on Instagram or Twitter @biminisharkgirl. Additionally take a look at her work sharing her ardour for sharks with youngsters at sharks4kids.com.