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  • Writer's pictureChristine Grosart

To be a Fellow

"Dear Miss Grosart,

I am writing to confirm your successful application for Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)."


That's not something I ever expected!

Someone at work asked me why I explored caves. What did I get out of it?

They didn't see the attraction.

There's no money in it. In fact, it drains your own personal finances. No prestige.

No job prospects. No gold medal. Rarely any recognition other than the occasional nod of approval from your mates in the pub that night.

You get to call a piece of this planet your own for an unknown period of time - until that is, another human goes there after you. Until then, it's yours.

But honestly? Nobody really cares. Or maybe, like this guy, they just don't get it.

Perdreau-Fourmi, Herault, France.
Rich Walker swimming through cave passage that Christine and her team discovered in 2012. Image: Christine Grosart

The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) is the United Kingdom's learned society and professional body for geography, founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences.

Today, it is the leading centre for geographers and geographical learning.

The Society has over 16,500 members, with its work reaching the public through publications, research groups and lectures.

Through our work with Ghost Fishing UK, Richard and I had come to the attention of Paul Rose, the popular explorer, former vice president of the RGS and tv presenter.

Our CVs which were rather rather unsung, showed many years of cave diving exploration in France, Bosnia and Croatia.

We were mapping new, uncharted territory in stunning underwater caves across Europe but very few people knew of it and even less cared.

One of my favourite pastimes is making films about exploration. I want to share our discoveries and show the diving world what goes into virgin exploration, going literally where no other human has ever been.

We never take ourselves too seriously though - it is meant to be fun after all! There is usually a healthy selection of outtakes to bring us all back down to earth.

It meant the world to us and that's why we do it.

Empty line reels are hard earned. Perdreau, France.

The primary reason for Paul's interest was the charity Ghost Fishing UK which was ground breaking, with the largest single collective of divers in the world, the first training course in the recovery of ghost gear and a powerful database of locations, types and impact of ghost gear in British waters.

Run entirely by volunteers, it had changed the lives of over 70 divers and was starting to make a real impact on the perceptions of the marine environment and the damage ghost gear can do, to not only the diving world but the general public.

A long standing, massive issue that was largely taboo and very much hushed up and overlooked, was now being exposed.

An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is lost into our oceans on a global scale each year. Whilst great strides and efforts had been made to manage fish stocks and sustainability, huge fuss being made about super trawlers and fighting over fishing grounds...the fact that every commercial fishing vessel has at some point lost or abandoned fishing gear to the ocean to continue ghost fishing, had not even been considered.

My role in the charity covers lots of areas. I set out as a trustee and secretary, while my underwater role tends to always be videography and photography. An image speaks a thousand words, especially to the non diving public, so this is an area I am quite devoted to. I also make films, short AVs and documentaries about Ghost Fishing.

I've taught myself all about sound recording, underwater videography, lighting and getting the most out of Adobe Premiere Pro.

I hate not being able to do something - if I can't do it, I have to go and learn how!

It took months and months of work to build, write and test the Ghost Fishing UK training course.

Run over 3 days it is designed to turn carefully selected divers into Ghost Fishing divers, who can work safely as a tight team, in close proximity to ghost nets.

It is immensely satisfying work but very, very time consuming and I admit to struggling to combine both cave exploration with running a charity full time and holding down a high profile job for a significant company offshore.

But hey, you're only on this planet once, I believe, so it is my mission to make the most of it and record as much as I can for posterity, inspiration and creating fond memories to look back on.

You can check out any of the Blogs on the WetWellies website, according to what grabs your interest.

Adventures with Agnetha - The Van Life Blog

Exploring the Herault - Expedition Blog

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