Wednesday, 26 February 2020


Caitlin Bird or Caitlin Fish?

On Mercury Bay Area School student, Caitlin Bird’s 10th birthday on 14 May this year, she made the absolute most of it and began her Junior Open Water Diver Course. You have to be at least 10 years old to start the course and Caitlin finished it within a week of her birthday.

The Junior Open Water Divier Course is an entry level programme that is internationally recognised. The course is done in three parts - knowledge development, confined water and open water.

Now that Caitlin is qualified, she’s on her way to being able to dive alone. But until she’s a little older there are a few restrictions. “At this age, you still have to be with an adult though," says Caitlin, as if she’s confident enough she doesn’t need one. The depth she can dive to is also restricted to 12m, but as she gets older that restriction lessens.

Caitlin started diving when she was, “About eight, in either Fiji or Tonga… one of those holidays anyway,” she says with a giggle. Caitlin’s favourite part of being in the water is getting to closely interact with all the marine life, as she clearly has a great interest and love for it. Caitlin’s dad even jokes that she "is" marine life. “My dad has always said that I’m a fish," says Caitlin. "He jokes that if you look close enough you can see my gills.”

Caitlin’s parents have been a huge influence on her love for the water and were instrumental in her gaining her Junior Open Water Diver certificate. Linda and Darrel Bird own Dive Zone Whitianga and are both keen divers themselves. Even though Caitlin mentioned, with a cheeky smile, that, “Mum doesn't like it if it’s too cold. And if you splash her she’ll get a bit grumpy.”

Caitlin lights up when asked about her favourite experiences in the water. There are two times in particular that stand out for her. The first was in a cave in Tonga, because she got to see a lion fish for the first time. The second, was when she went swimming with humpback whales. “We hopped in with humpback whales! They were huge and very playful and Mum said it was like swimming with frisky buses." When asked about her scariest experience though, the answer is the same, "The whales, it was the coolest and scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Caitlin is very keen to advance as high as she can. "Unfortunately I can’t do much more until I’m 12, but I can do my Junior Adventure Course," she says.

To no one’s surprise, Caitlin wants to work in the water when she’s older. “Well, since I was about six I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist, because I just love marine animals," she says.

Diving isn’t Caitlin’s only after school activity, she takes an urban dance class, as well as having done ballet since she was three. She can also play the piano, but isn’t taking lessons at the moment.

Caitlin Bird is a very smart and driven young girl, with a cheeky smile and a quiet, but not shy demeanour. It seems as if she's certainly on her way to achieving her goal of becoming a marine biologist the same the way she obtained her Junior Open Water Diver certificate - the moment she was able to do it.


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Did TCDC do the right thing to make Whitianga subject to a total watering ban during the busy summer holiday season?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.