What's Your Occupation?

By Erin McFadden

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It’s that moment towards the end of a long haul flight, when I’m sitting on what is now an uncomfortable but soon to be forgotten economy seat, that I am handed the arrival card and my now well-practiced form filling begins. I’m abnormally happy to now know my passport number and expiry date without having to go digging in my hand luggage to find my passport and look it up. I’m now uncharacteristically thrilled to lift a pen that has been pre-placed in my bag in the knowledge that this form filling was coming while watching the majority of people around me follow my pen zipping across the form. Yes of course you can borrow it when I’m done. But amongst the ridiculous “are you bringing over $10,000 cash into the country” style questions (if I’m sitting in Economy it should be obvious that no, I’m not…) there is always one that makes me pause.

“What is your occupation?”

Well that all depends what country I am landing in and which ship I am headed to. It could be a number of different things, but having tried a few more detailed answers over the past few years I now simply and lucidly write “DIVER”.

Running sneakers | Nike SB


“As in high diving?” – a question I have been asked by many an Immigration Officer.  

“Definitely not. You wouldn’t want to see that.”

I don’t want the Immigration Officer to ask me too many questions. I have nothing to hide. I just don’t know how to answer a question about my profession quickly enough to be on my way to the luggage wheel where I can look longingly for my battered bags full of life’s necessities as a travelling working diver to appear through the plastic flaps. Sometimes they don’t. Oh the hassles that has caused…but if I were to pause and answer the Immigration Officer’s question it would entail one of the following options:

Sometimes I drive a boat and drive other divers around, help them gear up, drop them somewhere cool, pick them up and fill their tanks afterwards. Sometimes I lead divers in the most remote and inaccessible locations in the world. Sometimes I jump in a boat with mask and fins and go and find a good dive site; jumping in and pulling my boat along behind me with the bow line. Then I guide people around the chosen dive site and fill their tanks afterwards. Sometimes I dive in Antarctica – just one buddy and me. We dive to find and film interesting creatures. Sometimes we snorkel with penguins, seals, and if we’re lucky, with whales. Then I fill our tanks afterwards.

Not just sometimes, but every-single-day when I am at work I am surrounded by astounding places. It could be a remote uninhabited South Pacific Atoll or somewhere amongst pack ice north of 80° or tucked inside a crisp glaciated bay along the Antarctic Peninsula. So often my days at work are a whirlwind of activity that it’s very easy to visit a remarkable location and barely realise it. But as a diver one of the best moments I have to take in these extraordinary places is when I am out on deck filling tanks and have no option but to stay and wait and watch.

So when it comes to the end of my next contract and I hand over the departure form to the Immigration Officer I might just fill in the “What is Your Occupation?” box with “Tank Filler”. And I’m happy with that.    

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Ocean Geographic Explorer (OGX) is a diving adventure resource with a special focus on marine photography and ocean conservation. Our content is divided up into six primary categories: Travel, Sea Science,  Equipment, Photography &Video, Conservation, and Lifestyle. We endeavor be a portal for people with all levels of interest in the marine environment  to learn about and become part of a community of like-minded ocean lovers who enjoy sharing their knowledge of and experiences in our fascinating ocean world.

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