By Dan Coles and Dilantha Dissanayake
Schoolgirl Amy Burns spends her school holidays a bit differently to her friends – by free diving with SHARKS.
At just 10 years old, Primary School pupil Amy is believed to be the youngest person in the world to have a professional diving qualification and to have swum next to sharks with no cage.
Amy, from Bromley, Kent, has grown up in a family of divers – and last Christmas, Amy jetted off to the Bahamas and became the youngest
people ever to swim with the apex predators without a cage and was surrounded by up to 15 fully grown sharks at any one time.
The incredibly brave girl hopes to become a vet when she’s older and whilst the rest of her friends are catching the latest trendy fads at school, Amy is showing them videos of her deep in the ocean feeding sharks.
Amy said: “I always like to try new things, I started getting interested in sharks because my sister and mum dive a lot, I really wanted to try it when I was about six.
“I saw a magazine about sharks and was quite scared of them at that point, but I just thought they don’t really try to hurt people and I don’t like that it’s what everyone thinks.
“If you act like you’re scared of them when you’re around them they will sense your fear and become scared themselves, you should always stay calm, no sudden movements.
“When I knew I was going to be surrounded by sharks I was so excited, my mum and sister was with me so that helped with the nerves.
“My instructor believed I could do it because I was so calm about it and there were so many sharks around me, about 15 altogether.
“Some were really big, and some were babies, but they were all around me, it was amazing.
“I think what made me so comfortable about it is all of my training, I had been training for a while and my confidence was growing all the time.
“When it came to getting in the water and feeding them without a cage my instructor said I was good enough so I believed in myself a lot.
“There were some moments that I was a little scared, like at one point we had to hold onto some rocks on the seabed to stay still and everyone was worried I would let go.
“I can remember all of the sharks swimming around me, almost bumping into me but they were so graceful going through the water.
“They were so beautiful and smooth, you couldn’t hear them, but I had to keep looking around, so I knew where they all were, they were very cool.
“I’ve also been around divers because of my mum and sister, I don’t get in the ocean alone so I feel quite safe.
“Sharks are really nice creatures; they don’t try to eat people like everyone seems to think they just defend their home when something strange pops into it.
“I would be the same if a strange person was standing in my house.”
Amy has always been surrounded by diving gear and even when she was a baby, she could often be seen picking up different equipment when her sister, Charlotte, would be getting her gear ready.
Since her inspiration, Amy has gone through two years of thorough training to be able to even be considered safe to get in the water with the sharks, and advises that anyone wanting to do the same should go through the appropriate training needed to be equipped at diving with sharks.
Amy said “My sister really inspired me to pick up my diving gear, my mum did too, she has done over 100 dives.
“I think I’ll do it more but it’s quite expensive so when I’ve made lots of money, I’ll dive loads more.”
Charlotte added: “I remember turning around and seeing her in the water, and then I saw a shark right next to her and she didn’t even flinch.
“We were told not to stick our selfie sticks up in the air so that they don’t alarm the sharks, and I have never seen her hold something to close to her body in her whole life.
“I think because she’s so young she hasn’t been taught to fear sharks so to her it’s just another creature in the ocean, I was so proud of her.”
Amy managed such an impressive task in late 2018 when visiting the Stuart Cove Dive, a diving school in the Bahamas and Amy showed such knowledge on diving that they were happy for her to hop into the water, making her the youngest girl they had ever seen jump in with the sharks without a cage.
Amy remained underwater with up to 15 sharks and loved every second of it. Amy’s mum, Louise, was also there on the day.
Louise said: “Being a diver myself and seeing my little baby Amy getting into the water with all the equipment and amongst these sharks made me feel a little anxious but she did so well.
“I don’t forget how lucky we are that we’re able to do these things together and seeing Amy had such an amazing time was incredible.
“She’s a very brave girl and I think she wants to be a vet when she’s older because she loves animals.”