A self-confessed scuba-diving fanatic, who has spent more than 1,500 hours underwater, is the newest recruit to join Bristol Aquarium’s team of aquarists.

Originally from Sussex, displays supervisor Paul Strachan has dived all over the world including a spell as a divemaster on Lord Howe Island in Sydney.

Prior to arriving at the Harbourside attraction, he also spent time working as a keeper at Australia Zoo in Queensland as well as Deep Sea World in Scotland and the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.

“I’m really excited to be joining the team at Bristol and I’ve already had the opportunity to dive in the displays to carry out some routine maintenance work,” said Paul.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to share my love and enthusiasm of the marine world with a wider audience and I’m looking forward to meeting the visitors and, hopefully, inspiring some of them to start diving as well,” he added.

Paul has dived all around the world in Alaska, Canada, Cuba, Australia, the Red Sea and lots around the UK, chiefly in Scotland.

Among his diving highlights so far is meeting a giant Pacific octopus in the North Pacific.

When leading a guided dive in Australia, Paul and his group were over-swum by a particularly large tiger shark. As thrilling as this was, they decided it was probably time to get out of the water!

During a dive in Loch Fyne in Scotland, Paul and his buddy were ‘pinged’ by a humpback whale –the sound underwater was deafening and they immediately rose to the surface in time to see the whale’s tail slap the water close by.

With regards to unusual experiences, Paul says that although the humpback whale incident was extraordinary, the weirdest occurrence was when he was night-diving in the Red Sea.

After being underwater for a few minutes, he swung his torch around to have a look about and noticed a group of lionfish following him. He then noticed more moving closer in from above his head.

Apparently this is a regular occurrence as lionfish in this area have become so acclimatised to humans they think they are going to get fed when they see divers.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact David Waines or Tina Patel on 0117 929 8929.