For more than 35 years, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® (OWUSS) has provided firsthand experiences in underwater-related disciplines to young people considering careers in the underwater world. OWUSS awards three Scholarships annually selected from applicants in North America, Europe, and Australasia.
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Courtney Rayes, 22 years from Auckland, New Zealand was this month selected as the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Australasian Rolex Scholar for 2014.
Courtney is studying towards a Master’s degree in Biological Science at the University of Waikato and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science, majoring in Marine Biology. A strong advocate of the oceans, Courtney states that in order to truly protect our underwater world, “I believe awareness and education is vital in initiating and achieving conservation, sustainability and restoration of the underwater environment”.
After working as an aquarist at Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland, in 2010 Courtney became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. Her qualification gained her a job at Leigh, north of Auckland working on an outer gulf charter boat.
While completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Tauranga, Courtney spent her spare time diving the local offshore islands. It was during this period that the Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Tauranga causing a massive environmental impact. Adds Courtney, “I participated in much of the clean-up, recovering everything from oil coated sea life to polystyrene beads. It really made me aware of the potential human impact to the environment”
Courtney is also keen to progress in her career as a PADI Professional, “I currently have no experience using a dry suit – and as yet – have not pursued technical diving, which I think would be extremely useful in future for scientific and exploratory diving I undertake”, she adds.
With a strong interest in marine ecosystems and following the work undertaken so far during her Masters Degree, Courtney hopes to continue with her scientific approach and utilize it to create a greater awareness and share her passion for the underwater world.
For the full article, visit the New Zealand Regional News Page.