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Think Green - think Ireland!


Maynooth man working to get biodiversity project up and running

by Sarah Egan, "Liffey Champion" (short version).

 

Maynooth man, Victor Kutischev, has been working since the beginning of the year on a biodiversity project that he believes not only can generate an interest in Irish nature but can also generate jobs and boost tourism.

The Castle Dawson resident held a number of exhibitions recently, including one in the Zoology Museum in Trinity College in June, on his project ‘Underwater Ireland’.

The project looks at the underwater life in Irish rivers, lakes and seas to show the amazing diversity most people would never know existed in Ireland.

Victor became interested in underwater life at an early age.

“I started snorkelling when I was about seven or eight-years-old, even before I learned how to swim,” said Victor, who has been living in Ireland for more than ten years now.

“I was afraid of learning swimming but I loved water and everything that was related to it.

“In the very beginning I was just crawling with a mask and snorkel in the very shallow water, maybe up to my belly button, but very quickly I realized that the water actually could carry a human body so if you just lay in the water and relaxed you wouldn’t drown.

“So I learned to swim in that strange way and started to go deeper and started free-diving, which is diving without using any breathing device, and a very different, and at the same time an absolutely amazing, world opened its door to me.

“That was when I lived in the south of Ukraine.

“Every long and hot summer I spent lots of time fishing and snorkelling and in winters I watched every video about underwater life I could find.”

When Victor finished secondary school he moved to the coast of the Black Sea and then to the coast of the Baltic Sea, where he kept up his interest in underwater life and snorkelled regularly.

In 1996 he moved to Spain but he wasn’t very impressed with the underwater life there.

“Also when I was in Spain I really missed fresh air and green colour so in 1998 I decided to move to Ireland,” he explained.

“It wasn’t easy in the beginning, and I had to take a break from my favourite hobby for a few years.

“But one day a friend of mine invited me to Hook Head for snorkelling.

“I borrowed his wetsuit and after a very long break I submerged myself underwater again, but this time in the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic Sea to be more precise.

“Right from the first minutes underwater I was very impressed by all those views and the variety of colours I could see there.

“The underwater life there was very different from everything I had seen before and I was very surprised that the grey, if you looked at its surface water, could hide so many colours.

“As a result I spent three hours in the water and when we came back home I decided to buy new snorkelling gear.”

The first place Victor tried out his new gear was the Grand Canal, where he ended up staying in the water for two hours because it was so full of life.

Then he tried lakes around Mullingar, where he was again impressed, and he was blown away when he went snorkelling in Kerry.

“Everything I had had a chance to see before in different countries, all views I had had a chance to watch in videos were nothing in comparison to what I discovered there in reality everywhere around me (in Kerry),” he enthused.

“Small coves with warm water were so colourful and so full of marine life that I simply couldn’t believe my own eyes.”

When Victor returned home he tried to find some photos of underwater life in Ireland because it was so beautiful but he couldn’t find any.

“That was a challenge for me,” he said.

“I was a photographer so I decided to try and change the situation.

“I got my first digital camera, with the help of Brian Redmond, the director of Spin Dance and Fitness (www.spindanceandfitness.ie), plus an underwater housing for it, and I started to use them straight away.”

Victor is hugely grateful to Brian for being the first person to support him and giving him that step to move forward he needed.

He also recorded footage with a camcorder and created a YouTube page so that he could share the footage with everyone and then he created his own website called ‘Underwater Ireland’.

“I kept progressing with my project and improving my skills until last summer when a professor and marine biologist from Trinity College found my videos on the internet and he offered to organize the ‘Coastal Underwater Biodiversity’ photo and video exhibition in the in the college,” said Victor, who jumped at the offer.

He discovered that underwater visual attraction was not being used to boost the Irish economy because people are generally not aware of it and through the exhibition he wanted to create some awareness.

However, the exhibition did not initially go to plan as it was hoped.

But Victor still moved forward with the exhibition, despite his reservations, and looked to companies for possible support both financially and if they wanted to help develop the project.

“I've got positive reply from Scubapro (www.scubapro.com), who decided to support me with a new set of snorkelling gear,” explained Victor.

The exhibition had to be moved to the Zoology Museum and this is where he exhibited in June 2010. Unfortunately the location wasn’t great because the museum is deep in the college and people couldn’t find it, but those that did were hugely impressed.

Now he hopes to exhibit again, if he could get the money, with back illuminated frames and the photos printed in 3D. “If I get a chance to display everything I have, plus everything I’ll make, in a proper place and in the best possible way, that event would definitely succeed and it would definitely promote the Irish biodiversity and the whole country,” he said.

"I’m getting more and more personal messages and comments about my underwater videos from all around the world and people are writing that they never imagined that Ireland was so beautiful and that now they want to visit this place."

"I have more than 2.000.000 views for my videos on YouTube right now and imagine if I manage to convince even 1% of all those people to come to Ireland."

And even this is not the main benefit of my project.

“If the information about this natural resource reaches wide public around the world, the business value of Ireland as a country, which is measured in real dollars, euro, pounds, will grow for millions generating real money for all of us.”

Victor believes that the Irish Government would benefit from participating in the project.

    The exhibition in the Zoology Museum in Trinity College.

“In my opinion the Irish government should participate in the development of the project mainly because the project would generate real money for the Irish economy apart from bringing different benefits to the society,” he said, although he says that the government hasn’t shown any interest so far, no matter how hard he tries.

None of the set backs have put him off developing the project though and he is still very dedicated to it.

He would like to thank the Zoology Museum at Trinity College for helping him with his exhibition and the Polish Society who hosted his second exhibition.

Anyone who would like to help with the development of the project can contact Victor at

His photos and videos are available to be viewed at www.underwater-ireland.com

 

Sarah Egan

26th July 2010



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