Dubai: Dubai-based Indian father-daughter scuba diving duo Priyadarshee and Tisya Panigrahi recently went diving with sharks in Maldives to mark their milestone dives - the 50th dive of the father and the 25th dive of the daughter.
Priyadarshee completed his 50th dive at the Fulidhoo corner dive site, off the island of Fulidhoo. Priyadarshee, accompanied by Tisya, 12, reached a depth of around 50 feet. “The highlight of this dive was the presence of large schools of Batfish who accompanied us all through our dive,” he said.
The Longfin batfish is a very curious creature and it often approaches divers. At one point in the dive, the duo said, they were also accompanied by black tip reef sharks. Their last dive happened to be Tisya’s 25th dive.
“This was at the Alimatha Jetty dive site, off the island of Alimatha, which is a world-famous destination for diving with nurse sharks. Sometimes, one can see up to 100 sharks of various species on a single dive.”
Tisya, a Grade 7 student at Raffles World Academy, and her father dived up to 70 feet at this dive site. They said dozens of Nurse sharks, some of them as big as 8 feet in length, swam alongside them.
“A few of them even bumped onto Tisya,” said Priyadarshee.
Tisya said: “It was really incredible to dive along with these gentle giants. The Nurse sharks come really close to you and some of them even brushed against my body. Towards the end of the dive, when I was on the sea bed, I looked up and I could see 30 to 40 sharks swimming over my head. It was really thrilling and my 25th dive became a memorable one.”
Priyadarshee said: “Maldives is well known for its rich marine life, lively and colourful corals and great underwater visibility. To make our milestone dives memorable, I planned to visit these islands with Tisya. I became a scuba diver in 2012, at the age of 36. For me, this trip was very special as I completed 10 years of diving and also 50-plus dives.”
The expat family hails from the eastern state of Odisha in India. Tisya had become her state’s youngest scuba diver in 2020 when she obtained her Junior Open Water Scuba diver license at the age of 10 from Al Boom Diving, UAE. Earlier, in June 2022, she also became one of the UAE’s youngest Junior Advanced Open Water Scuba Divers when she dived 70 feet on her 12th birthday.
The father-daughter diving duo were also in the news in August 2021 when they had sent out festival greetings from 40 feet under the sea, off the coast of Al Aqah in Fujairah, on the occasion of their premier agrarian festival ‘Nuakhai’, which is celebrated to welcome the ‘new rice’ of the season in Odisha.