After spending eight months petitioning for special approval from the Icelandic government, 13-year-old Charlotte Burns is finally planning the dive of a lifetime! The English scuba diver has just received permission to dive into the Silfra fissure, which will make her the first child to dive between the tectonic plates that separate the North American and European continents. The adventurous Mighty Girl from Kent, who is also the world's youngest Junior Master Scuba Diver, says, “I’m really excited. I started learning about tectonic plates in year seven [aged 11] and since then I’ve been really fascinated by them.”
Charlotte, who is from a family of scuba divers, started diving at age 10 -- the youngest you can receive certification. By age 12, she achieved the rank of Junior Master Diver from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Her diving logbook holds an impressive selection of over 130 dives around the world, including locations in Scotland, Cyprus, and California. She's also just been appointed a global ambassador for PADI and will focus on encouraging others -- in particular, girls and women -- to give diving a try.
The 200 foot deep Silfra crack is in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, and it’s the only place in the world where you can dive between two tectonic plates: “It’s very rare to have two plates that aren’t colliding — being able to dive through that in water and touch two continents at the same time is amazing,” Charlotte says. The normal age requirement for the dive is 18, so Charlotte had to petition the Icelandic government for special dispensation. She’ll be diving with British explorer Monty Halls, and the dive will be filmed for a documentary that will be used in classrooms to teach about tectonic plates.
Charlotte is planning her dive for September, and hopes that her example will encourage other kids to take on similar adventures. “[Diving is] an amazing feeling. There are no words to describe it… The fact that, at 13 years old I can do it puts across a clear message that no matter what age you are, anyone can rise to the challenge and get used to diving. It works with anything, no matter what age you are and no matter what you want to do, anyone can do anything.”