Sambalpur born and Dubai based Odia father-daughter scuba diving duo Priyadarshee and Tisya Panigrahi have created another memorable moment. Priyadarshee and Tisya, who is just 12 years old, went to Maldives, a few days ago to do their milestone dives.
Priyadarshee completed his 50th dive at the Fulidhoo corner dive site, off the tiny island of Fulidhoo. Fulidhoo is measured 670 meters long and 200 meters wide, with a population of only around 300 residents.
In his milestone 50th dive, Priyadarshee was accompanied by Tisya. They went to depths of around 50 feet. The highlight of this dive was the presence of large schools of Batfish all through the dive. The Longfin batfish is a very curious omnivore (which eats both plant and animal matter) and it often approaches the divers. At one point in the dive, they were also accompanied by black tip reef sharks. Coincidentally another diver, American Citizen Ms. Connie Lin also celebrated her 50th dive at the same time. She had flown in all the way from New York, USA to be in the Maldives for her dives.
The highlight of this trip to Maldives was their last dive, which happened to be Tisya’s 25th dive. This was at the Alimatha Jetty dive site, off the island of Alimatha. The Island of Alimatha is a World famous destination for diving with nurse sharks. Sometimes, one can see up to one hundred sharks of various species on a single dive.
Tisya and Priyadarshee dived up to 70 feet at this dive site. Dozens of Nurse sharks, some of them as big as 7.5 to 8.0 feet in length swam alongside them. A few of them even bumped onto Tisya. A wonderstruck 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 30-40 sharks swimming over my head. It was really thrilling and my 25th dive became a memorable one’.
Tisya became Odisha’s youngest scuba diver in 2020 when she obtained her Junior Open Water Scuba diver license at the age of 10. Earlier in In June this year, she also became Odisha’s youngest Junior Advanced Open Water Scuba diver when she dived 70 feet on her 12th Birthday. The father-daughter diving duo were also in the news in Aug, 2021 when they had sent out their festival greetings from 40 feet under the sea, on the occasion of Odisha’s premier agrarian festival ‘Nuakhai’.
Priyadarshee said ‘Maldives is well known for its rich marine life, lively and colorful 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’.
Ali Miuraj, who is from Maldives and is the co-owner of Fulidhoo Dive, PADI 5 Star Dive Center in Fulidhoo was all praise for Tisya. He said that Tisya is a good diver and that it was a pleasure to dive with her. He gave out a message for all children ‘Learn scuba diving, it will change your life!’.
Priyadarshee Panigrahi and Soumitri Nanda’s daughter, Tisya was born in Sambalpur. She is a grade 7 student of Raffles World Academy, Dubai. She happens to be the grand daughter of former Minister and Member of Parliament from Odisha late Sriballav Panigrahi and educationist late Sunanda Panigrahi. Tisya is also the grand daughter of former Sambalpur MLA Dr. Raseswari Panigrahi.