Start underwater photography
First step – re-mortgage the house! Can be very pricey business. Don’t even start unless prepared to spend. Problem is that unlike surface photography, difficult to get really good results without specialist kit. Plenty of snapshot u/w cameras around now that give good results for u/w memories, but eye catching photography needs very wide-angle lenses, macro and powerful off-axis flash. Not only very expensive, but one salt water flood writes it off! Also, needs obsessive precision and discipline to be good due to challenging environment. Assume that if not a good, precise, knowledgeable photography on land, no hope underwater. Need to either stay with snapshots or get totally obsessive. Any middle ground likely to end up spending too much money and not getting good results. Consider going on underwater photography course to learn principles & see how hard it is to do well, then take it from there. If a couple of hundred pounds burning hole in pocket, no harm done buying one of many “snapshot” u/w cameras around. If only occasional use and don’t need to go deeper than 5m or so, the u/w disposables give surprisingly goods and by far best value for this. Great for shallow tropical diving/snorkelling.
Start marine archaeology
Join a marine archaeology group. Don’t even think of trying to go it alone. Won’t find stuff without amazing luck, but far worse even slight ignorance of technique can destroy irreplaceable historical finds. See “… Contact Diving Related Bodies” for details of Nautical Archaeology Society, UK Institute of Conservation, English Heritage and others.
Getting ever harder to find new stuff. All the easy finds been located long ago. Need to dig into obscure records now. Best bet is to find existing wreck finders and join a group. Many books around too telling how to get info from Admiralty, Lloyds, news archives, war records, and so on. People get obsessive about this game – all or nothing. If you want this to be your life, go for it…
Learn marine life identification
Obviously, many course around to get started. Quite possible to teach yourself too. Check marine life books to see what to look for – e.g. fin configuration a far better cue than more obvious colour. Whenever/wherever diving, make sure fish identification books with you. On dive, really look at marine life, study detail. Memory detail actually a lot more vague than it feels. Surprising what you think you remember until later when you see ten that could all be it. Make notes & sketches on waterproof notebook if poss. As soon as possible after every dive, look up what you saw and write it in logbook. If some not found, make notes about fins, shape, size, habitat, markings and later try to find them in other books. Ask other divers and dive guides too, but beware as plenty of bluffers around who are totally confident but totally wrong. Treat them as quick way to look up fish by name rather than search pictures. Photographs help learning as brings real memory of moving fish back. When not diving, make a habit of reading marine life books. Randomly test yourself trying to identify pictures. Self-teach like this ok, but will learn more about creature behaviour, habitat etc. on courses. Will probably see more fish after understanding where to look and what camouflage to see through. Consider even going on marine identification holiday.
Get involved in marine conservation
Again, join a marine conservation group like the Marine Conservation Society. Contacts under “… Contact Diving Related Bodies”. Good if can go regularly to local group. Main thing is to do some sort of project. Just talking no good. Make a difference Take on something that you believe in and do it well. Try to enthuse others in the club but becoming a bore about it counter productive. If interest grows, plenty of opportunity to take sabbatical and do 3 months solid conservation work in Belize, Caymans, Philippines etc. Beware though, it’s no holiday, hard work, sometimes poor living conditions and to top it all these organisations charge you a lot for the privilege of working for them! Duke of Edinburgh scheme worth looking into too.