Diving with mantas is a bucket-list dream for most divers, but Ben Buchan, the 2015 Australasia Rolex Scholar, made that dream a reality.
During a three-week stay in Yasawas, Fiji, Buchan worked with the Barefoot Collection and Manta Trust to study manta mating behavior and take manta ID photos on a daily basis.
As an Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Rolex Scholar, traveling to exotic locations comes with the job, but this trip to Fiji brought more than just mantas and great diving: Buchan participated in coral rejuvenation and the reintroduction of giant clams into Fijian waters.
“I’m eager to see how these projects grow over the coming years and to see more local communities become involved in saving their oceans!” Buchan says of his experience in Fiji.
As this trip recap suggests, the life of an Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Rolex Scholar is nothing short of an adventure, one that can be tailored to individual interests, giving scholars the opportunity to leave a personalized mark on the underwater world.
The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Rolex Scholarship provides experiences for scholars to learn not only about marine environments but also the local cultures that rely on them. On a separate trip to Taveuni, Buchan put to action a particular passion of his, “to educate developing communities on the importance of ocean conservation and the need to protect local reefs.” He did this by leading marine talks and beach clean ups with local children of the island.
Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and Rolex have been working together for over 40 years on a shared mission: to identify and develop the next generation of dive leaders and underwater researchers. Over the last four decades, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and Rolex have fostered the development of future leaders of the underwater environment like Ben. Today they are seeking applicants for the 2016 Scholarships. Currently, three Rolex Scholarships are awarded, to applicants in North America, Europe and Australasia. During the scholarship year, the three winners have the opportunity to travel internationally and learn from the world’s leading experts in conservation, underwater photography, maritime archaeology, marine engineering and other related fields.
If you or somebody you know are between the ages of 21 and 26, have high academic standing and have achieved Rescue Diver or equivalent certification, continue reading at OWUScholarship.org to learn why being the next Rolex Scholar is a life-changing experience. Application deadlines for the 2016 Scholarship year are as follows: North American and European applications are due December 31, 2015. Deadline for 2016 Australasian Scholarship application is January 31, 2016. The organization also offers numerous internships, which can be viewed here. Application deadline for internships is January 31, 2016.
Keep up with Ben’s adventures as the Australasia Rolex Scholar on his blog.