By Bharath

Aneesha Ani Benadict is the first female scuba diver from the fishing community in Kerala. A Marine Biologist by profession, she works at the Kerala State Biodiversity Board currently. She has been an active member of Friends of Marine Life, a marine conservation organisation based in Kerala.

In this conversation with Voyance, Aneesha Ani Benadict talks about her early challenges and experiences pursuing the field of Marine Biology despite hailing from a coastal background. She muses on overcoming the hurdle of being a scuba diver due to the cultural stigmas surrounding her female gender identity within the fishing community.

Aneesha further talks about many of the prevailing misconceptions surrounding ocean and scuba diving in particular. She addresses the many academic and professional opportunities provided by Marine Biology and diving, stressing on the need for more and more coastal community members to step into these fields.

As a scuba diver, Aneesha has seen what lies under the ocean depths up close. And with that in context, she reflects on the urgent need for conservation of the ocean and our coasts. She points out the threats of unregulated coastal constructions in Kerala, particularly in the Thiruvananthapuram coast, that have been destroying our precious natural reefs as well as displacing the fishing communities. Further, Aneesha touches upon the subject of the Vizhinjam Port construction and how that has affected the ocean and the coastal indigenous populations here.

By Bharath