Ben Buchan Selected to be 2015 Australasian Rolex Scholar

It is a great pleasure to announce that Mr. Ben Buchan, from New South Wales, Australia has been selected to be the 2015 Australasian Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.

BEN BUCHAN | BIOGRAPHY:

Ben-Buchan-200I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales, and have lived within 10 minutes of a beach  since I was 11 years old. For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep fascination with the  marine environment, and have always had the desire to learn as much as possible.

I gained my open water diving certification at the age of 15 as part of my marine studies class at  high school, which is when I became addicted to diving. Upon the completion of my Higher School  Certificate in 2010, I started my Bachelor of Marine Science in 2011 at Macquarie University,  North Ryde. Through my studies, I became more passionate about the marine environment and I  was offered the opportunity to volunteer in Cambodia in the initiation of a coral reef  regeneration project with Reach Out Volunteers.

For an entire month in January of 2012, I stayed on an island called Koh Rong in Cambodia, in a  tiny village that had not had any western influence. The reef around this village was so degraded  from the use of non-sustainable fishing practices, including the use of dynamite. Over this month,  the team I was  part of removed over 100 nets from the surrounding reef, and focused on  teaching the village proper and sustainable fishing practices. It was through this time I realized  the significance that education and public awareness has on the conservation of continued  protection of the marine environment. I left Cambodia with the desire to share my knowledge  and experiences of the ocean with as many people as possible.

Back in Australia, I continued my commitment to Reach Out Volunteers, and begun recruiting  other students to volunteer in a range of environmental and community development projects  around the world. In 2013, I became a scuba instructor, and have since been able to share my  passion and knowledge of the marine environment with my students that have been from all  around the world.

As part of my university degree, I secured a volunteer position at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, and  was involved in many aspects of animal husbandry from feeding, cleaning, and monitoring life  support systems from rescue animals. I had the opportunity to work with animals from small fish  and invertebrates, to large sharks, turtles and stingrays. Here, I had the unique opportunity to  share the importance of marine conservation with a diverse audience.

Before my final semester or university in January of 2014, I returned to Koh Rong in Cambodia to  again assist in the continuation of the coral reef regeneration project. I was inspired by the new  attitude of the village towards the marine environment, and overwhelmed by the increased  health of the surrounding reef.  Over the course of January of 2014, I certified 35 volunteers for  their open water course, and as a team, we deployed artificial reef pods to aid in the growth of  this reef system. Now, there are over 100 artificial pods surrounding this growing reef, and the  project continues today, with volunteers constantly traveling to aid in the program.

In June of 2014, I graduated with a Bachelor of Marine Science, and begun working as a Shark  Dive Coordinator at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, having the unique opportunity to not only  introduce people to the diving experience, but get them up close and personal with large Grey Nurse sharks, education them about the importance of shark conservation.

I have since begun my Master of Marine Science and Management at Macquarie University, and am currently focused on the social behavior of sharks. I am currently living on Heron Island as a dive instructor, again having the opportunity to share my passion for diving, and the marine  environment, with a particular focus on the importance of the Great Barrier Reef system.   I look forward to the opportunity to add to my list of experiences, and participate in a number of  important marine projects throughout the scholarship year.

 

About Gene Muchanski

Executive Director at Dive Industry Association. Board Member at Dive Industry Foundation. Marketing Consultant to the Diving Industry. I have been a certified Scuba Diver since I was 15 years old and have been a passionate waterman for as long as I can remember.
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