Presenting the two talented winners of our 2019 Young Travel Writers Competition! Read their imaginative underwater stories here
We received a staggering 700 entries to our Young Travel Writers competition. Thank you for all the hard work and creativity that went into writing your stories about underwater worlds. We were overwhelmed by the standard of entries. The lucky winners in each age category each win a fabulous family holiday to the Mediterranean islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, which offer incredible diving experiences for adults and children.
With clear blue seas, reefs, stunning caverns, caves and wrecks, our winners might just glimpse some of the characters in their stories. Winners will stay with James Villas, with a choice of more than 3,000 villas in more than 60 destinations, including Malta and Gozo!
‘Carter,’ called mum. It’s time to wake up. But Carter didn’t want to. He was fast asleep dreaming, somewhere far away.
I was deep down at the bottom of the ocean with my ocean friends, my favourite place in the whole world. I love how blue and wavy it is and it has swimming animals that live there that make me happy.
Meet Derek the dolphin. He is very, very intelligent. He knows more than my dad and he knows a lot. He is really friendly and we play games together. I like to ride on his back. We swim as fast as a flash and he squeaks when he’s happy. He doesn’t feel slimy like a fish, he feels like a rubber dolphin.
Sarah the seahorse is magical. We enjoy playing hide and seek, but I never win a game because I can never find Sarah. She is very good at changing colour, this is her magical power
Kevin the killer whale is as big as a bus. He is the boss of the ocean but he doesn’t boss me around because we are buddies. He might look big and scary but he is very friendly, he has hundreds of big white teeth and when he smiles he brightens up the ocean with his big white smile.
Tracy the turtle is the oldest animal friend in the ocean. She has been swimming in the ocean for a very long time. I watched her lay hundreds of eggs, I can’t wait to meet the baby turtles.
‘Carter,’ Mum shouted again and I woke up. I jumped out of bed, got dressed for school and went downstairs for breakfast. I was excited to go school today. We have been learning about the ocean, my favourite subject.
‘OK year two,’ said Miss Nolan. ‘We are learning about plastic pollution. Does anyone know what this is?’ We all shook our heads. Miss played us a video. I was shocked at what I saw. The ocean I love didn’t look like my dreams. It was full of plastic and the animals didn’t look happy. It made me sad that over 800 animals are affected by rubbish in the ocean. Tracy turtle had been eating plastic bags, Derek the dolphin was tangled in wire and Sarah the seahorse was wrapped in plastic This made me very angry and I wanted to help save them.
I started making posters to put up around school so everyone can see what is happening to our ocean. I put posters in my local shops so the adults could see and stop buying plastic. Each weekend I go to the beach to pick up plastic and rubbish off the beach. This makes me feel happy knowing that my ocean friends will be safer.
Saving the ocean and our future is very important to me. If we all help clean the ocean then hopefully one day it will be as beautiful as my dream. Let’s save our planet.
I still remember my mother.
Remember that when I was a small child, she would sit me down on the windowsill of our cottage and tell me stories. I would stare as the rain tapped its way down the glass and curiously wonder at the white-fringed waves that were crashing onto the rocks and rusting the iron railing on the sea-front.
I remember the day she left, my father brainlessly cursing behind her. She gently kissed me on the forehead, a sleek black coat of fur hung over her shoulders. I asked her where she was going, my eyes wet with tears. She did not answer, she did not cry, she did not return.
I remember the day I realised what she had been, when a boy in my class had nervously presented his speech on local folklore. When his description of the beautiful, shape-shifting selkies had perfectly matched my memories of her. He spoke of how their children would have webbed hands like those of gull, and I looked down at the rough and jagged scars lining my trembling fingers.
I’m sure I shall remember this day as well. Remember how I now stand at the edge of the waves, a light drizzle falling from the grey sky. I nervously hum a lullaby she used to sing to me as I walk into the icy current. I close my eyes and hold my breath as a wave closes over my head, gasping with shock as the chill takes hold of my body, but I don’t go back.
The brine stings a little as it washes into my eyes but I barely feel it. I have to resurface for air, I am no fish after all, but I can last far longer than my human peers could ever dream of. I am almost part of the sea now, my heart beats in time with her steady rhythm and for the first time I can truly admire the beauty of her depths rather than feeling afraid of what lay down there. I watch in wonder as silver minnows dart past, some disappearing with a splash as they stray too near the surface and are snatched up by the hungry gulls. Swaying kelp decorates the seabed and I glide through the forest it creates, feeling it brush up against my hide. Waltzing the crystalline waves, I feel more at home than I had ever felt on the land.
The light bounces off the gleaming scales of a multitude of fish and warm water washes over my silken pelt. I no longer hold my human form, for it is far easier to swim as a seal. It is the same form my mother took before she was taken by my father. The form she returned to when she found her lustrous coat that had been hidden for so long. The form I now take to be with her. I smile, for I am home, I am free.