A KILLINCHY teenager has swam with one of the most endangered sharks in the world as part of a marine conservation television programme.

Fifteen year-old Eloise Keers dived with hammerhead sharks in the Bahamas as part of the CBBC programme hosted by BAFTA winning presenter, Steve Backshall.

The Strathearn School student, who hopes to become a marine biologist, travelled to the tropical waters of Bimini for the programme – Deadly Shark Mission – which aims to help protect the critically endangered hammerheads.

The first episode of the 10-part series aired last week showing Backshall and 10 young people from the UK jetting off to the Bahamas to learn about marine life from experts while also taking part in daring dives with sharks.

Eloise applied for the show last year after hearing about the exciting quest on TikTok.

With her GCSEs on the horizon, Eloise is dead set on realising her long-time dream of becoming a marine biologist, which has only grown stronger after her dip with the endangered sea-life.

“I have always wanted to be a marine biologist since I was six or seven. It has been a dream of mine for ages and when I saw this come up I thought I would jump at the opportunity,” said the Killinchy teenager. “I have always been down at the beach, I practically live there at this point.”

“My favourite part was getting into the water for the first time with the sharks, because I always wanted to do something like that. It was a life changing experience.

“Meeting all of these new people was really great too. We learned a lot about the culture of the Bimini and we learnt quite a lot about the people there too.

“At first I couldn’t believe that I was going, then suddenly when the time came closer it started to sink in. It was something I wanted to do all my life, I was so excited to go,” she added.

Her mother, Andrea, this week told of  her daughter’s unforgettable journey, which included diving training in Plymouth as part of the initial preparations.

Says the local mother: “Eloise applied about a year ago, and had to do a 30 second video as to why she should be chosen. Then she went through various interviews, a diving boot camp and then she was selected to go.

“They all went to Plymouth last November, and had to do various different activities, like jumping from a height into a quarry full of water. They did abseiling as well to see how they would get on, and to see if they would be brave enough to go into the water with sharks.”

Though BBC staff urged parents to manage their children’s expectations regarding selections, Eloise was adamant that she would be among the lucky 10 to go with Steve Backshaw to the marine sanctuary.

“She was so excited, she was really determined right from the outset,” says Andrea, “and found out she was going last Christmas.”

The first four episodes of Deadly Shark Mission can now be viewed on BBC iplayer.