5 of the scuba diving world’s leading brands – Apeks, Fourth Element, IQSub, Paralenz, and Shearwater Research – have launched a collaboration to promote exploration, ocean awareness, and inclusivity within the sport of diving.
The first outcome of this partnership, a short film called Unexplored, shatters the misconception that cave diving, often referred to as the most-dangerous sport in the world, is reserved for men.
As the first-ever collaboration of this scope in the diving industry, the project brings together innovators in the field of imaging, instrumentation, equipment, and clothing to present a progressive approach to some of the challenges faced by the sport and the environment. Increasing ‘ocean awareness’ is understood by the participating brands to be one of the industry's most-essential responsibilities. Consequently, the mission is to initiate and catalyze stronger collaborations within the industry, and greater inclusivity of the diving community to become ambassadors of the ocean.
At the core of the partnership is exploration. Our oceans remain relatively unexplored – an estimated 80 percent of the underwater realm and 90 percent of underwater caves remain undocumented. However, while the budget of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for the fiscal year 2019 stands at $21.5 billion, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) receives only $42 million for ocean exploration and research.
“Growing a general interest in underwater exploration, for example through the promotion of cave diving, will increase the amount of ocean ambassadors to address pressing issues. Technical divers are a great asset to marine research, as they access some of the deepest and darkest water-filled parts of our planet,” says Jacob Dalhoff Steensen, Partnership Manager at Paralenz and key partnership initiator.
Unexplored, the first outcome of the partnership, follows two technical divers exploring the Tortuga Cave in Tulum, Mexico. It sheds light on myths and stereotypes about technical diving, presenting cave diving as a pursuit of something more spiritual than dangerous, with a positive message about inclusivity.
“I wanted to challenge the stereotype that technical divers are usually men,” declared Maria Bollerup, who was joined by long-time diving partner Rannvá Jørmundsson in the film. “The diving industry and technical diving is very open. I see more and more women and female teams at the technical dive sites. It's refreshing. However, away from these sites, the external image of the sport is much different.”
When Maria and Rannvá told Jacob Dalhoff Steensen about their ambition, he was thrilled. “It's great to hear the community speak up. The idea for the film emerged directly from the community. Their enthusiasm to get people interested in technical diving is contagious,” he said.
The partnership will continue working together to increase awareness for our ocean through future projects. “It's exciting to be part of this project,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of Fourth Element. “Initiatives like this show that together our organiaations can achieve more than they can working in isolation. We're looking forward to the next project.”