Stephan Whelan (OS 1996)
The journey started when I was 7 or 8 years old with a try dive in a pool whilst on holiday with my parents. It very much continued when I joined Sevenoaks and the Sub-Aqua club run by Peter Ford and Steven Stares back in the early '90s.
These were my formative years in scuba diving where I went from being a complete novice to an instructor and the genesis of DeeperBlue.com occurred. As I had been diving for 6 years by the time came to leave Sevenoaks I had a ton of stories (and friends) that I had started writing about, which today we'd all be blogging about. My mum and grandfather had both been journalists so I had been very much inspired by them to write about what I was experiencing in this amazing new world underwater. Whilst I'd been studying computer science (and part of the lunchtime computer club at Sevenoaks), it wasn't until I got to University at DeMontfort that I started to learn to code websites and DeeperBlue.com was formally born. It was at that time DeeperBlue.net as I saved up to buy the .com domain name! Since then we've grown to be one of the largest websites - and lifestyle/media companies - dedicated to all forms of diving; Scuba Diving, Freediving, Ocean Advocacy/Conservation, and Diving Travel.
Conservation and ocean advocacy is a huge part of my diving life from the beginning. 71% of this big, beautiful planet is water. Whilst we know so much about the underwater world, we also know so little and it's been my passion to help educate the world on how to get diving safely and understand what we need to do to protect our amazing seas and oceans. We are unfortunately pouring plastic and chemicals into the oceans, as well as pillaging the seas with mass commercial trawling. I'm keen to get every person comfortable with the water in whichever way they want to, to see what we are doing and become an advocate for the protection of this planet.
What makes this so special is I now have a team of over 200 spanning the globe helping run the brand. We write and edit articles, moderate the forums, publish daily content to social media and support major events like Freediving World Championships and big international Trade Shows. We are a combination of volunteers and paid team which again makes me incredibly proud when I see and hear people so passionate about the same mission I've had over the years and work with DeeperBlue.com and myself to spread the word.
I'm still diving but nowhere near as much as I used to do - now only a few times a year whereas I used to dive every week and weekend! I was lucky enough to go to Fiji last year to do some of the most spectacular numbers of Reef, Bull and Tiger Sharks. One of the most inspirational dives I've done in my 27-year career diving with those majestic animals. I've also just been invited to go dive the Japanese WWII wrecks in Truk Lagoon in the Central Pacific in 2021 which should be amazing.
You can hear Stephan talking about his love for diving on ‘Big deep – An Ocean Podcast.'