Flash Interview: Rich Walker (GUE) on diving with purpose and becoming an explorer

March 31, 2020Interviews

At BOOT 2020, we interviewed a number of interesting and inspiring people from different ocean-related companies. What is diving and surfing with purpose? How does an “Ocean positive” business look? What are the benefits of adding underwater cameras to teaching situations? Why is visual inspiration key to make more people care about the Ocean? And, why is diving for exploration so important?

This time, we spoke to Rich Walker, scuba diving instructor at GUE (Global Underwater Explorers).

Rich Walker from GUE at Boot 2020
Interviewing Rich Walker at BOOT 2020

What does exploration mean to you? 

The idea behind GUE is to explore areas of the planet that have yet to be explored: the Ocean. Exploration to me is going somewhere where nobody has ever been before. But it’s also more than that. Anybody can go somewhere, but unless you bring information back, unless you document what it is that you’ve seen, you might as well not have gone. So, any explorer must understand that they have to document what they find.

What does diving with a purpose mean to you how does it relate to exploration? 

I guess by definition; exploration is diving with a purpose. Not all dives are explorational dives, but they can still have a purpose to them. You can go somewhere that may have been visited many times before, but you can always bring something new back. 

You can bring information back, you can achieve a particular goal like surveying a reef, or you could identify a wreck that people have been diving for years, but no one actually knew what it was. You could dive to clean up a marine environment or to remove fishing nets from the sea. So, to me, it can be anything on top of just floating around in the water.

How do you see that mindset of exploring and diving with a purpose grow among divers?

I think in the industry, there’s been a long, long history of trying to get divers to take one certification followed by another certification. There’s no real endpoint to that. It’s just about adding another certification or another piece of equipment. 

I didn’t start diving to have 17 different pieces of plastic attached to me. I started diving because I wanted to see what was under the water and tell my friends about it, explore new places, find out new things about the Ocean. Now, I want to tell these things to more than just my friends; I want to tell the world about it. I want to say to people that they’re in a position to change the things that we see going on underwater to make the world a better place.

Do you think any diver can be an explorer?

Of course, they can. There is so much of the Ocean that has not been explored yet. Virtually anywhere you look, if you look carefully enough, you can find somewhere that perhaps no one’s ever seen before. 

Remember what I said about exploration? Unless you don’t document it, you didn’t really go. So, you may have been on a dive site that hundreds of people have been before, but to me, if nobody took a picture or a video of it, and you take that one picture or video – that makes you the explorer.

Is there’s one thing you want to tell divers who want to become explorers?

Go diving. Find other divers that like doing what you do. You don’t have to join in a project of significant magnitude, something like diving on the Britannic, or exploring a cave that’s 10 miles long. It can be as simple as to start exploring the pier of your local shore. It can be to get some friends together to map out a local dive site or joining somebody else’s project. 

Also, it’s quite often people say: ‘Oh, you can’t join my project unless you have experience’. So all they offer is to make tea and sit on the boat. Some do that. We love those guys who accept this kind of offer, because what happens is, they come on board, and we see that they’re friendly, and they’re useful, and they’re keen to engage with the project. And the next time, they can probably go and dive, and so on and so on. Nobody starts getting invited into the project to sit at the top end of that project. Work your way up. You’ll be very welcome.

Thank you Rich!

Check out the other flash interviews from BOOT 2020:

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