Diving changes lives. It is one of those activities where its transformative power can be seen applied to both young and old. More often than not, when a parent is a diver, it is likely that the children will become divers too. Meet Mikkel. A 14-year-old diver who started diving at the age of 10. His story inspires to encourage more young divers and remind us of all the wonderful ways in which diving has made an impact on all our lives.
My name is Mikkel Aarup Tybjerg. I just turned 14 years and have been diving since the age of 10. I live in a small village in Denmark. My family and I live near the Sea and I have always felt a strong connection to it. When I was a baby, I used to start screaming when my parents took me out of the water. We have a sailboat and spend a lot of time at Sea. So I guess, when it came to diving, it was a logical step for me to break the surface.
My father is a great inspiration. He also started diving very young and has always loved it. On top of that, he is a marine biologist and has been telling me many stories about life in the Sea. So, of course, I wanted to join and have a look for myself.
I was ten years old when I did my first open water dive. It happened on Gran Canaria with my dad and one of his good friends from a local dive center, who has specialized in instructing children. My dad refused to be my instructor, so he was only there as a satellite.
I had just finished the theory lessons and we got directly into the Sea. We swam around for 45 minutes and fed some fish. I remember it as a very safe and fun feeling visiting the silent world for the first time. It was actually raining, so we could see hundreds of small raindrops on the surface. We did not care about the rain since we couldn’t get wetter anyway. Also we met a few cuttlefish and noticed them changing color. It was beautiful. When we surfaced, I was a bit cold, so we celebrated the first dive with hot chocolate and big smiles.
Since then I have logged 156 dives with a total bottom time of 6.355 minutes. I have never had a bad experience and I have very much enjoyed every minute of my time underwater.
Diving taught me a lot. Don’t know where to start. First of all, diving gave me a lot of gifts and experiences I will never forget. Also, I learned about basic physics, chemistry, meteorology, biology, math, languages and so on. This kind of theoretical knowledge I can use in school. Most importantly diving is like having the key to another world. Almost no matter where you go, you meet new friends. I already met divers from Russia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, the USA, France, New Zealand, UK, Germany, The Netherlands among many other countries. It feels like we are one big family and I have always been welcomed even though I am still young compared to many other divers.
’Go for it. You will never regret.’
And if I can offer a piece of advice, it would be to dive only with people you know very well. Diving is wonderful, but you are dependent on your buddy, just like your buddy is dependent on you. Therefore it makes it much more fun to dive with people you completely trust.
That is an almost impossible question to answer because picking one dive spot means leaving out others. I have never had a dive on a spot where I would not love to return! I have great experiences from The Caribbean, The Red Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. But if I was forced to pick a special location, my all-time favorite spot is around a secret island in Norway. We go there once or twice every year to dive. The island is surrounded by huge amounts of marine life and a lot of history. There are multiple wrecks dating back to the 16th century. And every time we dive we see something new and interesting. For example, last summer, I found a completely rounded stone on the ocean bed. It was approximately 10 cm in diameter and weighed 400 grams. We had it examined by an expert and it turned out to be a handcrafted stone-cannonball from the 16th century. Only eleven of these had been found until this one.
Also a hard one to answer. I have met thousands of fascinating marine organisms including dolphins, turtles, snakes, and sharks. But one experience stands out in my memory. Something special happened this winter, in southern Egypt, on a night dive. We were heading back towards the beach when I looked back and noticed a small, torpedo-shaped fish swimming right behind me. I turned my lights against it. It was a baby barracuda. The funny thing is the fact, that is was following me and stayed with me for a long time. It used me partly as protection from bigger predators and partly as a hideout from where it could attack even smaller prey. We stopped and the baby barracuda stayed with me for at least 15 minutes. From that moment on I was named ’Little Barracuda’. So that's probably my favorite marine organism.