Veteran recounts her underwater adventures in a new book
Zhang Yiping tried scuba diving for the first time 10 years ago and fell in love with it.
Since then the Hangzhou native, who works as a web editor with the Zhejiang Daily media group, has dived all around the world.
In her new book, Three Thousand Meters Under the Sea — A Decade of Diving, Zhang recounts her adventures in the underwater world. The Chinese-language book was published by China Financial & Economic Publishing House in June.
How deep can one dive? Do sharks bite divers?
These questions from readers during the book launch in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, last month reminded Zhang of her first dive.
“I was so nervous that I held the dive instructor’s hand very tight,” Zhang says of her first diving experience, in Lombok island, Indonesia, in 2005.
But Zhang says her fear faded as she saw fish swimming in the coral reefs and she spotted a sea turtle.
“I felt a sense of urgency on my way back,” Zhang says to an audience who had little knowledge of the sport.
“But this was because all of a sudden the map of the world waiting for me to explore expanded — the blue ocean was added.”
Recreational diving has long been a popular leisure activity in the West, but there were few people who could provide such training on the Chinese mainland a decade ago.
The author, in her 30s, says in the book that she managed to find a HongKong instructor on Phuket island in Thailand. She was certified as an openwater diver in 2006.
A year later, she was trained in Malaysia to become an advanced open-water diver, which allowed her to dive to depths between 30 and 40 meters.
In the book, Zhang also tells of her encounters with different types of marine life, and tries to correct public misconceptions.
“People think sharks are very dangerous. But the fact is most sharks are afraid of people, and only very few attack people when they feel danger or mistake humans for seals,” Zhang writes.
Zhang says in the book that during a diving trip in the Galapagos, a Pacific archipelago 1,000 kilometers west of Ecuador, she saw hammerhead sharks.
“There were probably 1,000 hammerhead sharks, and we watched them swim by for almost 10 minutes,” writes Zhang.
In the book, Zhang says that jellyfish are much more dangerous for divers than sharks, because most of them are venomous. But she adds there are exceptions, like in Palau’s Jellyfish Lake.
In the book, Zhang writes about the magical feeling of being surrounded by golden jellyfish, which are a unique nontoxic variety.
Zhang says she has been addicted to diving for many years. When she hasn’t dived for some time and doesn’t have a trip planned, the blue ocean often appears in her dreams.
“Many of my dive buddies have had similar experiences, and for some people it has lasted for so long that they decided to make diving their career,” writes Zhang, who has resisted the temptation of becoming a dive instructor and still works in the Zhejiang Daily media group.
In the book, Zhang says that when she started diving in Southeast Asia, there were few Chinese divers, so local people often mistook her for Japanese and greeted her with a konnichiwa, hello in Japanese. But now, Zhang writes, most famous dive sites have dive shops operated by Chinese, and, even in local dive shops, staffers greet her in Chinese.
At least 1.5 million people in the country have tried scuba diving, according to a report released at the China International Diving Festival in Lingshui Li autonomous prefecture in Hainan province on July 31.
Speaking about diving, Zhang says: “People know so little about underwater life. For some, fish are just food.
“I am glad that, besides divers, many children are interested inmy book. I hope my book can inspire the next generation to better protect the ocean.”
Zhang dedicates a chapter to the coral reef-restoration project initiated by some Chinese divers in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, who have succeeded in planting some 5,600 coral in specially designed pots in the ocean.
Zhang stopped diving in 2014 after she got pregnant. Her daughter was born last year.
But she plans to return to the water. “The minimum age limit for scuba diving is 10. So maybe after another decade I can go exploring the ocean with my daughter as my dive buddy.”
A close encounter with a whale shark is one of the biggest joys for scuba divers.
Zhang Yiping (top) recounts her underwater adventures in her new book.