It is a great pleasure to announce that Mr. Daniel Copeland, age 23, from North Wales has been selected to be the 2015 European Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.
DANIEL COPELAND | BIOGRAPHY:
Daniel Copeland, 23, has always enjoyed learning about, understanding and experiencing different aspects of the natural world. Despite this underlying passion, and a childhood living along the coast of North Wales, his plan throughout most of high school was to follow a path in electronic media and graphic design. It wasn’t until he took his first breathes underwater during an introductory ocean dive in a harbor in Malta, that Daniel’s love for the underwater world rapidly bubbled to the surface. During that dive, he was captivated by an unlikely encounter with a colorful and curious cuttlefish – an experience that changed the direction of his life forever.
Over the next few years, Daniel gained his PADI Open Water diving certification in Turkey, enrolled in an Open University, self-taught course in marine science, and embarked on a month-long expedition to Ecuador. Here he was fortunate enough to experience the rich marine biodiversity of the Galapagos archipelago, snorkeling with sea lions, sharks and penguins during a week tour of these famed islands. He was hooked! A career revolving around the underwater world was now the only path for him.
Daniel took a year out from education to further his diving skills and continued travelling to foreign shores. He spent three months immersed in the scuba culture of Thailand’s islands, where he was trained as a PADI Divemaster and to service Aqualung regulators. Daniel then headed to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, to experience an unforgettable introduction to cenote diving, and to unexpectedly attend the world’s second largest underwater wedding!
Daniel completed his degree in Zoology at the University of Sheffield in 2014. Although he was distant from the sea, Daniel managed to keep the underwater world a constant during his studies. He became a member of the university’s sub-aqua club, serving on the club’s committee and participating in the organization and management of various dive trips around the UK. Through the club he was trained as a drysuit and Nitrox diver, and later began teaching fellow students as a BSAC Assistant Diving Instructor.
In 2012 Daniel interned at the Marine Discovery Centre at Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives, where he assisted the resident biologists with their turtle rehabilitation, coral reef propagation, and fish breeding programs. It was here that Daniel also helped the Manta Trust collect photo ID data of manta rays within Baa Atoll and the world famous Hanifaru MPA. He went on to assist other scientists studying marine megafauna, including tagging whale sharks in Tanzania and supporting another manta ray researcher in Indonesia. His final year research project focused on gender differences in the skin morphology of lesser-spotted catsharks, whilst his dissertation assessed the effectiveness of ecotourism in the conservation of elasmobranchs.
Throughout his experiences, Daniel has enlisted different ways of sharing his passion for the underwater world. He has organized stands and given public presentations on manta conservation at several UK dive shows, and recently helped to manage a Scottish festival dedicated to basking sharks. Putting his existing media skills to good use, he has collaborated with marine NGOs to spearhead multiple online campaigns to garner public support of protective legislation for sharks and rays, reaching an audience of more than four million people. After developing a keen interest for underwater photography and videography, he placed 2nd in an amateur wildlife film competition ran by a popular UK natural history TV channel, with a one-minute film on blue sharks.
Over the years, Daniel’s desires have developed from pursuing a career in the underwater world, to developing one where he also plays a part in conserving it. Despite the armada of anthropogenic impacts that threaten our oceans, Daniel believes that the biggest challenge is inciting the world to care about these threats in the first place. His goal is to gain a better understanding of how to reconnect people with the ocean using a variety of different strategies – after all, a world that continues to be disconnected from its marine environment will have no interest in fighting to protect it. Daniel is honored to be appointed the OWUSS European Rolex Scholar for 2015, and believes it will provide an invaluable opportunity for him to learn how he can play a role in rekindling a love for our blue planet.