Anees Adenwala: The legendary scuba diving expert who has spent over 10000 hours underwater

With over 10,000 hours submerged beneath the waves, Anees possesses an unparalleled depth of knowledge about marine life.

“Melt your body into the sea until your soul exist and you will be as immense and powerful as the mighty ocean,” echoed Hugues Vitry, instilling a profound ethos in Anees Adenwala, who embodies a comparable mission: “Karo Toh Jaano,” signifying the essence of experiential learning. Anees, the visionary behind Mumbai’s Orca Dive Club, orchestrates global dive expeditions. With over 10,000 hours submerged beneath the waves, Anees possesses an unparalleled depth of knowledge about marine life. His expertise transcends the mundane; he navigates the underwater world with an innate understanding, unrivaled by peers. Anees’ unwavering dedication to diving aligns with his belief that true understanding of the ocean demands immersion and experience.

How did you get into scuba diving?
My journey into scuba diving was an unexpected turn from my advertising career. It all began when my boss arranged a trip to Lakshadweep, lured by an island’s captivating photo. On that remote island, I experienced my first glimpse beneath the ocean’s surface, wearing my boss’s numbered mask. This transformative moment sparked my curiosity and passion for diving. Encouraged by my boss, I immersed myself in learning the intricacies of diving, eventually becoming a certified instructor by 1997. That initial encounter with the underwater world altered the course of my life profoundly.

Why has scuba diving become increasingly popular in India?
Initially considered an exclusive pursuit due to its cost and limited accessibility, the landscape shifted significantly with the advent of online certification courses offered by organizations like SSI and PADI. These platforms democratized diving education, making it more accessible to a wider spectrum of enthusiasts across India. The convenience of online training eliminated geographical barriers, paving the way for a surge in interest and participation among diverse demographics. As a result, scuba diving transcended its exclusive perception, becoming a sought-after activity for adventurous souls seeking to explore the mesmerizing underwater realm. Moreover, Bollywood movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara have played a key role in popularizing the sport in the country.

Tell us more about Underwater Film Services?
Underwater Film Services represents a captivating intersection between the world of scuba diving and Bollywood glamor. This venture involved collaborating with renowned Indian film personalities like Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee, among others, to facilitate underwater shoots and sequences. By integrating the allure of diving into the vibrant canvas of Indian cinema, these collaborations played a pivotal role in elevating the sport’s visibility and allure within the country’s entertainment industry. The fusion of artistry and underwater exploration captivated audiences, further propelling the fascination with scuba diving in India.

Tell us about your first liveaboard? Which is your favorite one?
My inaugural liveaboard experience holds a special place in my heart as it marked the inception of a cherished chapter in my diving journey. However, among the various liveaboards I’ve embarked upon, Sachika stands out as an emblem of lasting camaraderie and unforgettable experiences. Sachika transcends being a mere vessel; it embodies a sanctuary where lasting bonds are forged among fellow diving enthusiasts. This liveaboard, situated in the breathtaking Maldives, has become synonymous with unparalleled dive expeditions, creating an indelible mark on the hearts of all who traverse its azure waters.

How is Zahaan Adenwala, your son, taking forward your diving legacy?
Zahaan, my son, stands as a torchbearer of our family’s profound connection with diving. His passion for the sport is palpable, and he is poised to carry forward our diving legacy. Zahaan’s dedication and commitment to diving mirror my own, as he seeks to inspire and guide aspiring divers, instilling in them the values of discipline, resilience, and an unwavering love for the ocean. His leadership role signifies a promising continuation of our shared devotion to creating a vibrant diving community.

Even after diving so much, why do you continue diving?
Diving isn’t merely an activity or a profession; it’s an obsession intertwined with my identity. Beyond personal gratification, my continued immersion in diving stems from witnessing the transformative impact it has on others. And I often like teaching beginners how to dive more than training instructors because I can connect with their feeling of awe. Each dive offers an opportunity not only for personal growth but also to nurture a sense of ocean citizenship and ambassadorship. Witnessing individuals evolve, gain confidence, and form connections through diving brings immeasurable joy and fulfillment. The prospect of sharing the profound experiences that diving offers propels me to continue this lifelong journey.

What are the most important elements of diving ?
Safety is the bedrock of diving, a principle deeply ingrained in our ethos, guided by CMAS standards emphasizing safety above all else. Diving is not merely about exploration; it’s about fostering a community where education, camaraderie, and adherence to stringent safety protocols prevail. Prioritizing safety involves meticulous gear checks before every dive, irrespective of ownership, ensuring comprehensive insurance coverage, and meticulous coordination for seamless travel and visa arrangements. Upholding safety standards creates an environment conducive to learning, exploration, and forging enduring relationships among divers.

How can the youth reap the benefits of scuba diving?
Scuba diving transcends a mere recreational activity; it serves as a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment, especially for the youth. Engaging in this immersive experience cultivates focus, resilience, and self-confidence, attributes that permeate various facets of life. Diving exposes them to a vast, mesmerizing world beyond their comfort zones, facilitating a deeper understanding of nature and instilling a profound sense of responsibility towards ocean conservation. This transformative journey offers the youth an unparalleled opportunity to broaden their horizons, embrace challenges, and evolve into conscientious global citizens.

How is scuba diving promoting women empowerment in India?
Scuba diving presents a unique avenue for women to break societal barriers and explore a realm traditionally dominated by men. As they overcome initial apprehensions and venture into the depths of the ocean, women experience a surge in confidence and empowerment. The camaraderie forged underwater transcends gender biases, fostering a shared sense of accomplishment and camaraderie. Through compelling stories of personal growth and adventure, women divers become ambassadors of empowerment, inspiring others to defy stereotypes and embrace their potential, both within and beyond the diving community.

Tell us a little more about the Mermaiding program – Merjestic, a wing of Orca Dive Club?
The Mermaiding program – Merjestic, led by Shameen Adenwala is an enchanting facet of the Orca Dive Club and a testament to our commitment to exploring diverse dimensions of underwater expression. This unique initiative invites enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the captivating world of mermaid culture. Participants undergo rigorous training, drawing from disciplines like mono-fin swimming, essential for embodying the grace and agility of a mermaid. The program extends beyond mere recreation, incorporating elements of discipline and skill development. Mermaiding enthusiasts engage in photo shoots and performances, channeling their love for underwater artistry, while creating a deep sense of camaraderie within the Orca Dive Club community.

Vidhi Bubna
Vidhi Bubna
Vidhi Bubna is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who covers international relations, defence, diplomacy and social issues. Her current focus is on India-China relations.