So we’re into week 6 of lockdown now and you’ve completed all of those DIY tasks that have been outstanding for ‘X’ amount of years, you’ve tidied up the garden (several times), you’ve started to re-decorate (even though you didn’t plan to!) and you’ve baked way too much that you can’t breath when you wear your favourite pair of jeans – even though you’re getting your daily exercise in!
What can you do now that’s not going to be a complete waste of time??
There’s several stuff that I like to do in my spare time that I’ve been doing more of the past few weeks to pass the time away:
- Citizen Science Projects
- Online Courses
- Rediscover a hobby or find a new one
- Live Webcams
Obviously, most of them I do is marine-related (sometimes mostly Whale related!) – for the sake of this specific blog (being a scuba diving one), I will relate it to the subject of Scuba Diving and marine life as best I can – but there is an abundance of different topics for each point out there. If you have time on your hands and are twiddling your thumbs, then it might be worth giving something back or learning something new!
Citizen Science Projects.
You will most definitely find something of interest to you in you google the related topic as a citizen project. The idea behind a Citizen Science Project is that volunteers, from around the world, can access data sets and record information from it. This is the kind of stuff that computers can’t analyse and what the researchers don’t have the time to do themselves. As well as going through such information you may contribute by taking and sending photos of certain animals, areas or items or reporting sightings of certain animals. Who knows….by helping out you could be contributing to a scientific breakthrough or helping to protect an endangered species! You don’t have to be a scientist to take part or have any experience in the fields offered, just generally a keen eye and attention to detail.
Some of my favourites that I recommend are the following:
This is one of the biggest and most popular online science citizen projects available. My favourites for this one is the Penguin Watch and The Kosta Seafloor Observatory. This is the link to their ‘Nature’ section, which includes these 2 and more sea-related (and other) projects!
The Penguin watch is going through photographs taken in Argentina, New Zealand and Australia and identifying every adult Penguin, Egg, Chick, Bird and ‘Other’ in the photo. They feature species like Gentoo, Adele, Rockhopper and Magellanic.
The Kosta Seafloor Observatory is great, I love this one! I love Benthic creatures, even the corals, you can find some unusually interesting stuff down there. This one never disappoints me, you can see Anemones, Crabs, Bivalves, Fish etc…All you have to do is watch short video clips – usually no longer than 15 seconds – and then identify what you see in the clips. The cameras are set up in The Kosterhavets National Park in Sweden.
Some other projects on Zooniverse that I do from time to time include:
- Beluga Bits. Yep, you read that right. Webcams under the ice in The Artic taking photos of passing Beluga. All you have to do is confirm whether you can see the Beluga’s underside in the photo and identify any marks.
- The Weddell Seal Count. The goal of this one is to measure the variation in the number of seals on the ice throughout the daily cycle. You simply click on the Mother & Pups, Adult Seal or Pup in the photos.
- Wildlife Kenya. Viewing photos taken in several locations around Africa to mainly identify where Giraffe populations are frequenting. As well as identifying Giraffes in the photos they ask that you identify other species that appear in them as well as an tracks visible on the ground.
- I also do a few from the Space category identifying asteroid trails and new stars.
- Other categories on Zooniverse include: Physics, Biology, Medicine, Literature, Language and The Arts.
National History Museum
London’s NHM have some good stuff from time to time. There’s not always projects here to do but it can always be worth checking back every so often to see if anything new sprouts up. I’ve used their ID guides multiple times and have recorded some Seaweed Surveys.
Alongside this they have some ‘How To’ guides that you can carry out at home, these kind of things you can get the kids involved with too. They involve such things as:
- How to build a birdbox
- How to make a bird feeder
- How to grow a garden lawn for wildlife
- How to attract butterflies in your garden
- Ways to help frogs & toads in your garden
- Create a wildlife friendly garden
Check out the guides at the bottom of this page. This page also includes some interesting reads.
Nat Geo have several projects across different subjects that you can get involved with. These can be worldwide and change regularly so be sure to check back every so often. In the past I’ve participated in Whale Fluke ID, Butterfly ID and Seabird ID.
On the subject of National Geographic, some of their current projects maybe of interest to you to read through and pass some time:
At the moment there are lots of companies giving out either FREE or discounted courses on an array of different subjects. I’ve previously used Future Learn, all of their short courses are free and you only pay at the end once you’ve completed the course if you want a certificate of completion. Some of the courses I’ve done with them previously and upcoming ones include:
- Exploring our Oceans
- Shipwrecks & Submerged Worlds
- Ecology & Wildlife Conservation
- Bookkeeping and Personal Business Accounting
- Mindfulness for Wellbeing
- Exploring Space
When I started using it a couple of years ago it was all free and always available. It’s recently changed and now offers upgrades for lifetime access to the courses you do and certificate prices available within that cost. They even offer online degrees now! As I’m mainly doing this for interest, I only use the free option and am always happy with what I get for it.
Have a look at what they have to offer and have a browse on their site.
If you want to earn yourself a qualification (no matter how big or small) that you could add onto your CV or something that can help you improve at work, I’ve found that Reed is a good site. Courses include stuff like administration, IT, Accounting, Health & Care, Hospitality etc. Either free or discounted. Very handy indeed!
As I said, there’s lots of websites offering an abundance of courses at the moment – all you need to do is a simple Google search to find one that ticks your interest boxes. Here’s a list of some of the better-known brands that offer free of discounted courses:
- Open University
- Barclays Life Skills
- Learn Direct
It might also be worth checking GroupOn for offers – I’ve done a Microsoft Office course from an offer I got via them in the past.
If you want to learn more Scuba stuff then don’t forget the e-Learning section on our webpage too! There’s a list of courses that you can do from the comfort of your own sofa. It’s a great time to get the theory out of the way before doing the practical when it’s possible, it’ll save you rushing through it all on your evenings after work a couple of days before you’re due to complete it in the water. Check them on the link below and get started now – contact us if you need more information. They are currently on offer too.
Frustratingly, we all have a hobby that we really enjoy but can’t do at the moment! Some of us have a hobby within that hobby – for me it’s photography. I’m lucky enough to be able to do this top side too though, and lockdown encouraged me to do a bit more than I usually do when I’m dry. I’ve been a keen photographer since I was in my early teens and have gone through phases of it over the years. I’ve been playing around with the different settings on my new(ish) phone over the last few weeks too.
I’ve also rediscovered an old interest that I’ve been meaning to do for years! Stargazing! Coincidently, a couple of days after chatting about astronomy and astrophotography to Leon a telescope came up for sale on my Facebook newsfeed, so I got straight on it and now it’s in my kitchen – it was obviously meant to be! I’ve enjoyed my last week re-reading a book I’ve had sat on my bookshelf for years and have also ordered a couple more. I’ve been watching some videos on Astrophotography and now have a list of accessories to buy for my Telescope and camera kit! I can’t wait to be able to get it out and about rather than being stuck in my back garden.
Re-discovering a hobby can be great. It could bring back memories, reigniting what you forgot you enjoyed all those years ago. So, go find your old books, your old painting set, some gardening tools and dust them off and enjoy…
Finding a new hobby can be just as enjoyable and interesting. Have you ever thought, “oh I wish I could do that?” “I’d love to give that a go?” Well, now is the perfect time to act on it. Browse some of those online courses to get you started. Ask friends and family for advice if they’re familiar with it.
There’s a nice article here on how having a hobby can benefit you:
If you can’t think of anything to do, why not think about your interests first:
- Do you like the occasional alcoholic beverage? You can buy home brew kits these days and make your own wine, cider, ale etc.
- Always enjoyed walking round art galleries? Get yourself a ‘Learn how to draw book’ or start painting.
- Do you enjoy reading? Re-read some old books that you have on the bookshelf or starting writing yourself.
- You can potentially turn any interest into a hobby…Enjoy!
If you really are truly missing the water and holidays find a webcam! With growing technology there are literally thousands of them around the world now – even beyond our planet! So go on, immerse yourself…. here are some of my favourites that I like to watch from time to time:
- Monterey Bay Aquarium - https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams
- Explore - https://explore.org/livecams/oceans
- WebCam Taxi - https://www.webcamtaxi.com/en/webcams.html
There’s plenty more out there, just give it a Google search 😊
The government guidelines allow us outside the confides of our homes for only a few reasons – one of them being 1 hours exercise. Make the most of it, as divers we need to keep fit and healthy to continue to enjoy our hobby and we live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Don’t do anything too strenuous as you could cause yourself harm, we don’t want that so if you’re not use to a regular exercise regime start of in little amounts. If you are totally self-isolating and/or don’t want to risk going out at all there are plenty of fitness videos online and exercise DVDs and books you can purchase online. I’m not familiar with them myself as I go out and about, but the below links maybe of use to find something to suit you and your needs:
Have some fun, make the most of your time. Don't forget to share your photos with us in the comments section of this post on our Facebook page.
We'll be back in the water soon! :)