Into the depths of the sea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2011, 12:00am

Ocean Park is a great way for youngsters to get a closer look at marine life, but for Geoffrey Yau, from Kwok Tak Seng Catholic Secondary School, the open sea is where he gets his fix of sea animals.

Geoffrey, 14, goes diving once or twice every month with his parents and friends. He is armed with his diving gear, a camera and unflagging determination to explore the ocean.

Geoffrey's work will be on display in Tuen Mun on August 21 as part of Citywalk's Never Give Up Summer Programme. Students all over Hong Kong sent in pictures of their ideal sea environment and he is one of the finalists.

Geoffrey's family are recreational divers, and he has been keen on the sport since he was young. When he started as a 'bubble maker' at the age of eight, he couldn't carry all of his diving gear himself. Older people had to help him by throwing his gear into the water before he was able to strap it on.

He got his first open-water diving licence at the tender age of 10.

Sai Kung is one of his regular dive spots during term time. But during the holidays, he has also dived off the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand - places that are all home to a wide variety of wildlife.

Alongside diving, Geoffrey has also developed a strong interest in underwater photography and marine life preservation. Unable to publish his own book, he has collaborated with a few of his diving buddies to make a photo pamphlet, which has been distributed in diving shops around Hong Kong.

'The visibility in local water deeper than 10 metres is quite low, which makes it hard to photograph bigger creatures in the distance,' the student says.

He is very proud of his work, but that does not mean he is not looking for bigger fish. He has already taken pictures of a 1.5m- to 2m-long shark as well as octopi.

Geoffrey says he was not afraid of approaching the shark. 'Sharks don't usually attack humans. We are not their prey so I was not afraid at all,' he says.

He posted pictures of the shark on Facebook much to the delight of his friends.

Geoffrey's fascination with underwater photography has given him the motivation to take part in activities that help preserve marine life. During a recent interview, he sported a shirt with a logo that discourages the consumption of shark's fin soup.

'Not only does it contain few nutrients, but the treatment of the sharks is barbaric and killing the sharks will mess up the food chain,' he explains.

Geoffrey has also participated in underwater clean-ups. Using a net, he picked up glass bottles, beer cans and plastic bags from the sea bed.

The young diver urges people not to 'throw rubbish [especially plastic bags] into the sea as turtles often think that the bag is a jellyfish [their main food source] and will eat it.'

That can kill the turtles and other creatures.

Geoffrey plans to become a certified diving master when he turns 18.

He wants to work as a scuba instructor and share his passion with other students.

For fabulous photos taken by Geoffrey and other students, visit Citywalk's Never Give Up summer photo exhibition on August 21

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Into the depths of the sea

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