||THE DREAM MAKER – To plan and execute a 30 day, 30,000 mile adventure for my 2 young children, Ocean (aged 12) and Summer (aged 10) to gain a greater understanding of Ocean Giants and other selected marine species around the coast of Australia with the main priority being to locate and swim with the largest fish in the Ocean, the Whale Shark. Marine conservation is very close to my heart and having lived in Australia and Asia for a number of years I have personally witnessed the impact that both man and global warming has had and continues to have on our waterways. Other giants and marine species that were on my radar included integrating with humpback whales and their calves, leopard sharks, tiger sharks, shovel nose rays, manta rays, bull rays, eagle rays and lots more. Prior to departure I designed a blog so that the adventure could be streamed during our month away, which I uploaded daily as an inspiration for other single parents that dared to be different! www.3muskateers.co.uk
||I was in charge of the entire project from the initial planning stage through to completion which included primarily the safety of the children and myself. The whole trip was based around the location and whereabouts of each species during specific time frames which required careful orchestrating. As I was funding the adventure, I was in charge of all finances, all logistics including but not restricted to accommodation, boat hire, spotter planes, flights, food, cars and of course all the necessary risk assessments given the complexities of gnarly reefs, open ocean, strong currents, dangerous wildlife including sea snakes, jellyfish, saltwater crocodiles and the usual predators such as whites, tigers and bull sharks.
||Travelling alone with 2 young children to the other side of the world in the search for the largest fish in the Ocean was always going to present challenges but given I had whisked them through the snow capped forests of Finland sled racing behind 5 huskies this was at least, something I was immensely passionate about. The greatest challenge was locating the whale sharks so I appointed a guide and spotter plane to scale down the search in order to maximise our time in the water and reduce fuel costs. On locating the sharks some of which were in around 400m of water off the NW coast of Australia, the next challenge was to try to keep up with them, which with 2 children in tow required several “drops”! … these sharks are incredibly powerful and fast! Other challenges that presented themselves were of course the weather (25kts) at times, rolling swells, strong currents, navigating through the reefs due to large swells and of course predators, namely tiger sharks that were within the vicinity at one particular location off Ningaloo. Around the Whitsunday islands, we also came across a tiger shark within 10m of a female humpback and her calf. It should be remembered that we were swimming with these magnificent creatures in their environment, therefore nothing is guaranteed in terms of sightings making financing the trip somewhat disconcerting at times. It was a risk I took and a risk that paid off.