Meet India's Youngest Female Master Scuba Diver
Maya Pillai completed her courses right from open water to rescue all over the world and then completed her master scuba diver certification from Temple Adventures to become India’s youngest female master scuba diver. A PADI Master Scuba Diver Certification is a rating which places you with a group of divers who have earned this rating through significant experience and scuba training. Fewer than 2% of certified divers ever achieve this rating. A PADI Master Scuba Diver rating is the highest level of recreational scuba diving.
Let us take a look at what Maya has to say about her journey and her advise to young girls who dream of something.
“I first started diving at the age of 10. We had gone to Havelock Island, Andaman in October 2014. My parents enrolled my brother and me into an Open Water Course with Barefoot Scuba. After my first dive, I was amazed by all the marine life underwater at 12m. Although the equipment (cylinders) were very heavy to carry around the beach and back, I never felt discouraged. I managed to complete the open water course at 10 years and 6 months. We went to Bali, Indonesia in 2016. In Bali, we simply logged fun dives.
Six months later, in May 2017, we went to Borneo, Malaysia. There, I completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification and got introduced to Specialty Dives. In March this year, we returned to Havelock Island and dived with DIVEindia. It was here where I learned about the master scuba diver rating. To achieve the MSD rating, you need to be an advanced open water diver, a rescue diver, an emergency first responder, have at least 50 dives and 5 speciality certifications. At Havelock, I got my rescue certification, my emergency responder certification and 2 speciality certifications (underwater naturalist and peak performance buoyancy). We went to Pondicherry’s artificial reef in May which is where I got my search and recovery speciality certification. Then I went to Bali once again in June where I got my last two specialities, nitrox and drift diving. We returned to Pondicherry right after where I completed 50 dives and got certified as a Junior MSD.
From the beginning in 2014 till the time I achieved my MSD, I learned about being weighted correctly underwater, adapting to cold water, using a different gas blend (higher percentage oxygen), maintaining buoyancy by just my breath, underwater communication signals and different rescue procedures underwater.
Being underwater, I have gotten exposed to environmental issues not many people may be aware of. I’ve seen the bleached, dead corals as well as the healthy flourishing corals. I’ve learned about how the ocean affects the climate and have seen the effect the ocean temperature has on coral reefs. Life started in the ocean and now, the earth, starting with the ocean is perishing.
I want to be a part of environment conservations as I grow older. I am already helping a reef conservation foundation in India. I want to start designing artificial reefs that can be put under water. In the future, I’d like my vacations to be dedicated to conservations.
The challenges I faced while scuba diving was being the only girl on the boat majority of the times, having no friends or company to dive with, lack of female instructors at some places and having to constantly travel. Having no dive centers or sites around Mumbai, every diving trip ends up being abroad. Our diving trips are often sporadic or cut short because of studies or exams.
The message I’d like to convey to girls of my age is not to let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something, or stop you from doing what you love or trying something new. Don’t let anybody tell you what to do. Do not let anything stop you from achieving your goals.