On the 13th of November, a group of divers from Doha , leaded by PADI MSDT Edison Marinda, were enjoying their holidays in Seychelles.
While sailing South East of Mahe, the crew noticed a huge splash in the distance; curious about it, the skipper steered the boat towards it and suddenly a baby-whale broke the surface and slapped the fins on the water while another whale – bigger in size – from below the surface kept on spraying form her blowhole.
Here below Edison words ….
<<It looked like the baby-whale was alerting us that her mother was in trouble; everybody on the boat started shouting “whale – whale” … we grabbed our freediving gear and cameras and we all jumped in the water, leaded by the local dive guide. As soon as we approached the whales we could see the tragedy that was taking place: the whale was entangled in a massive fishing net, more than 50 meters long, filled with dead fish …including a juvenile shark. I felt sad and angry in seeing a gigantic 16-meter humpback whale, together with her calf, hovering powerless!>>
The team immediately headed back to the boat: in few minutes a rescue plan was in place, everybody knew what to do and they all jumped back in the water equipped with scuba gear and knives.
It was an hard mission that lasted more than one hour, as the distressed whale kept on swimming and diving to depth carrying the group of divers, who were holding on to the net, to 30 meters. At first, the rescue team was able to cut the net surrounding the mouth but there was still more entangled on the caudal and pectoral fins. It seemed that they couldn’t do any more than that and, due to dive profile and air consumption, the divers surfaced and went back to the boat. Few moments later the whale surfaced again, the team went back to the water and they were finally able to remove the remaining net and set the animal free!
<<It was an amazing feeling and experience to unleash this mighty creature. Thinking back, it was a highly dangerous mission: the whole team and I risked our own safety to save a life. This is a life lesson and an eye-opener to the world: a fishing net can endanger or even worst can kill sea creatures. We all have to be more responsible for how we act>> (Edison Marinda).
For more than two decades, scientists have been telling us that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the keys to long term ocean health. While some debated their worth early on, today there’s little dispute. As reported by Smithsonian Magazine, MPAs with full protection have four times as much life (biomass). Species grow larger and reproduce proportionately more. MPAs and the areas around them recover more quickly from environmental damage, and (along with fishery management) have higher fish catches — so much so that commercial fishing comes out ahead despite the loss of fishable area.While established as big wins for everyone, global governments arenot on track to meet a U.N. goal to have 10% of the world’s ocean under full protection by 2020. Officially, we’re at just under 6%, but some say it’s really under 4% because some declared MPAs have no enforcement and nothing’s changed.
But thanks to Hope Spots, we can help catch up and get ahead of the curve. Hope Spots, if you’re not familiar, were conceived by Dr. Sylvia Earle, with coordination and oversight by Mission Blue, a not-for-profit organization Dr. Earle founded to unite people and organizations for this cause. Hope Spots are unique marine areas identified as particularly distinct due to the diversity of species found there, the habitat’s importance for reproduction, threats from human activity, community economic needs or any other attribute that makes a location central to marine environmental health.
The idea is to conserve and preserve Hope Spots by leveraging public perception and attention so they receive appropriate protection (not necessarily becoming MPAs, and some Hope Spots are already MPAs). As you’d expect, the PADI organization formally partnered with Mission Blue in 2017, adding the weight of 26 million+ PADI Diver voices to the Hope Spot cause. Thanks to Dr. Earle, Hope Spots are a conspicuous example of how one person with a great idea can inspire millions to unite across borders and cultures for a common purpose.
Today, there are almost 100 existing and proposed Hope Spots, and they are important, even though preserving them will not, in itself, halt global climate change, clean up the oceans, stop overfishing, etc. These bigger problems call for big, broad and deep social changes (that are not impossible), but we still need Hope Spots for several reasons:
By creating areas with proven biological productivity, they help us buy time addressing some of these challenges. For example, Hope Spots won’t solve overfishing, but by providing areas in which fish reproduction functions unchecked, we prop up fish populations as we sort through the management issues.
Hope Spots help preserve biodiversity. Some scientists see this as helping the ocean bounce back with as many species as possible as we make positive changes. Others, accepting that some change is permanent, see biodiversity as central to marine ecology. That is, some coral species tolerate heat better than others; having a diverse genetic supply of such species may be important in a warmer ocean.
Hope Spots are inspirational and visible. Hope Spots draw attention. They remind communities just how close and personal ocean threats are, but that we can (and must) act to offset them. As a source of local pride, Hot Spots inspire area divers and ocean advocates to speak up for and fight for them. Mission Blue, PADI and other supporters use social media to highlight Hope Spot stories to make and keep them in the broad public eye.
As a diver, you can support the PADI organization, Mission Blue and others united behind Hope Spots. You can nominate a Hope Spot, and you can participate in events promoting/protecting a Hope Spot (many led by PADI dive shops or instructors, and may tie in Project AWARE as well). Of course, you can contribute to Hope Spot funding – check out mission-blue.org. If you live near or visit a Hope Spot, talk about it in person and on social media – especially with those who may not be aware of it. Finally, get involved with Project AWARE and your local PADI dive operation to make every dive count. Millions of people like you and me passionately preserving, conserving and restoring the ocean is the best hope there is.
PADI® and Reef-World have joined forces to promote sustainable diving practices for the protection of the marine environment. This partnership will raise awareness and deliver tools to implement the Green Fins standard of best practice, helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of coral reefs, recreational scuba diving and local livelihoods.
Green Fins is the only internationally recognized environmental standard for dive and snorkel operators, established through a partnership between UN Environment and The Reef World Foundation. Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centers, strengthening regulations and environmental education for dive staff, divers and government.
As the largest diver training organization in the world, PADI has the reach and influence to mobilize divers to be citizen activists. With 6,500 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, 135,000 PADI Professionals and more than 25 million divers around the world, the PADI network has tremendous potential to make an impact on critical environmental issues.
PADI is committed to supporting social and environmental efforts through its Pillars of ChangeSM, designed to empower divers, and the dive industry, with information to get involved with causes they care about in tangible ways. With PADI’s support and more dive operators worldwide adhering to the best practices outlined by Green Fins, the dive industry can play a significant role in creating a more sustainable future.
“Reef-World is working in partnership with UN Environment on the front lines alongside business, government and the public to be the driving force for making sustainable diving and snorkeling the social norm globally. Our ultimate goal is to reduce local threats to coral reefs, allowing them to be more resilient to global impacts such as climate change. We’re thrilled to work with PADI, alongside other dive industry leaders, who can engage divers and diving businesses worldwide, helping us to scale solutions with the urgency that is required.” – JJ Harvey, Reef-World
Many locations are experiencing increasing numbers of tourists who are attracted by vibrant coral reefs. Ensuring that every diver and dive operator in all corners of the globe are equipped with appropriate training and knowledge will help relieve pressure on the marine environment.
“Unquestionably, there are serious and formidable issues threatening the world’s coral reefs. That said, I’m a firm believer in engagement, problem identification and mitigation. The PADI organization is committed to acting as a force for good. By empowering divers and connecting them to the PADI family and global issues relevant to our industry, we can help people be a powerful catalyst for change.” – Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide.
“Saving coral reefs as a source of livelihoods and as a business asset requires collaboration between industry, civil society and governments. This partnership is set to raise the sustainability bar of the diving industry and will help establish environmentally friendly diving as the global norm” – Jerker Tamelander, Head of Coral Reef Unit, UN Environment
The partnership between PADI and Reef-World aims to reach more divers and businesses with the Green Fins lessons and tools. This will be achieved by:
Collaborating to help scale the proven solutions of Green Fins: PADI supports market research efforts for the development of a new Green Fins online support system for broader global implementation and easy adoption.
Promoting the Green Fins approach: PADI Dive Centres and Resorts are encouraged to adopt the Green Fins Code of Conduct and, where available, seek Green Fins certified membership.
Help deliver on PADI’s Pillars of Change focusing on marine animal protection and sustainable tourism by raising awareness throughout the diving industry about available tools and materials to promote change in business practices and reduce environmental impact.
Promoting sustainable dive tourism and coral reefs protection through the development of new online media content that inspires environmentally friendly actions.
Working collaboratively provides greater opportunity for dive operators around the world to be better informed and equipped to apply sustainable dive practices, using Green Fins’ guidelines. Reducing environmental threats and pressure on the fragile marine environment will result in improved coral reef resilience and increased sustainable tourism at dive destinations. The partnership delivers on the goals of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, specifically SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and 14 (Life below water).
Reef-World supports governments and communities in sustainable consumption and production of coastal resources and marine life. This is done through the Green Fins initiative, established and implemented in partnership with UN Environment. Green Fins is a free membership program for participating businesses that provide scuba diving or snorkeling activities and pledge to follow a set of best environmental practices. Within the 550+ businesses that have implemented Green Fins across nine countries, consistent reduction in threats to the marine environment has been measured, reflecting continued improvements in environmental practice. Specific areas of change are seen in reduced single-use plastics and chemical cleaning products, more responsible underwater behavior among divers and improved environmental awareness within our target audience. For more information visit reef-world.org and greenfins.net.
Everyone knows that global environments in general, and the oceans in particular, are threatened. Climate change, coral bleaching, overfishing, runaway plastics – it’s a long list and every day, another study makes the list longer and more daunting. It may seem like everyone’s jumping on the bad news bandwagon, but I look at these reports in a positive, enabling way: the future we don’t want must be predicted to avoid it.
So, besides studying current issues, marine and environmental researchers show us problems before they arise. For example, in August marine scientists Wortman, Paytan and Yao (University of Toronto and University of California, Santa Cruz) released a study that suggests that, beyond warming, elevated atmospheric CO2 would reduce oceanic oxygen, making the deeper depths toxic and significantly damage fisheries through it effect on the food web. Yes, that’s bad news, but thanks to these researchers we know now, while we still have time to do something about it.
And, this leads to the second reason researchers are a crucial force for good. It’s about predicting problems, but also finding the solutions andsharing them. In a previous blog, I mentioned Dr. Vaughan’s breakthrough in coral restoration – shared research that directly addresses a massive global challenge that’s close to the heart of all divers. In Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Marine Park, biologist Dr. Dorka Cobián Rojas teams with global scientists and “citizen scientist” divers to research causes and implement solutions to coral loss and the invasive lionfish. There also, Dr. Osmani Borrego similarly researches plastic pollution. These are critical research efforts because Guanahacabibes’ reefs are healthy, making them a biological resource oasis needed to find the problems and solutions we need to protect, preserve and restore the world’s reefs and fisheries.
Let’s not overlook “citizen scientist” involvement, because it is vital. Professional full-time researchers like Rojás and Borrego do not have the time or resources to gather all the data and trial the solutions. Solving massive, world-scale problems calls for massive, world-scale participation – in the ocean, that means you and me. As Project AWARE likes to say, don’t let your dives go to waste. Every dive we make can contribute to research. Dive Against Debris, for example, isn’t simply about picking up litter underwater or pointing fingers – it’s part of finding out how we can stop it.
Another effort is Reef Life Survey, founded by Dr. Graham Edgar, which trains volunteer divers to survey marine organisms. More than 200 RLS divers have already surveyed more than 2,000 sites in 44 countries, creating one of the largest global biological databases in existence. Using these data, researchers expect a shift in fish and invertebrate distribution as the oceans warm – a conclusion only possible thanks to these citizen scientist divers. India.mongbay.com reports that in India, scientists train fishermen and other volunteers to dive (if they’re not already divers) as citizen scientists for involvement in multiple initiatives, and it has another benefit – public support. “The research also gets community buy-in when their people are involved,” the report quotes University of Kerala’s aquatic biology department head A. Biju Kuma. Go online and you can find literally dozens of ways scientists embrace divers like you and me in researching the solutions to environmental threats.
There’s a lot to do, so let’s make every dive count. Join Dive Against Debris if you haven’t already, and/or any other citizen scientist effort. We can be researchers while still making images, exploring or doing everything else we love about diving. And, let’s be restorers who use what we’re learning to rebuild, revitalize and recreate a healthy global environment. Let’s be reachers and teachers who use diving to spread what we’re learning and doing, and pass it to the next generations.
Regardless of what today’s trends are, the future is not inevitable. With 25 million PADI Professionals and Divers helping lead the way, and with a new generation of divers to come, we’re already changing course to a different tomorrow with a thriving, healthy global environment. When it comes to gazing into the crystal ball, I like what author-educator Peter Drucker said:
The best way to predict the future
is to create it.
Written by Dr. Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO
Take a moment to think about what makes you productive. That is, what enables you to do things that benefit others – whether material, informational, spiritual or all three. Without productivity, success in anything can’t happen: it is, in effect, how we define success (and notice it’s not necessarily money or wealth). Some will tell you that productivity results from organization, luck and talent, but we’ve all seen disorganized, unlucky, ungifted people who produce and succeed extraordinarily. And sadly, sometimes we see the opposite. What’s the key element?
I think the musician Judy Collins put her finger on it. “Do what you love,” she said, “and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” That is, a passion for what you do is the one and only critical ingredient to high productivity. Zero in on what’s really important and productivity skyrockets, not because we do more things but because we do the right things. We stop wasting time on irrelevant (though often urgent) distractions that take us off task because we know where we’re going.
And, we work harder because we want to. Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, wrote, “Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.” Passion turns failures into learning opportunities, delays into new directions and challenges into creativity. If you are truly passionate about something, you don’t have to motivate yourself to be productive with it. You only have to find the ways.
In the PADI® family, there’s no shortage of passion for diving and the underwater world, and for changing the world by sharing both. It’s why we dive and how we share diving combined. PADI’s larger purpose is changing the world for the better. Every person we bring to diving adds to the political leverage and wise consumer choices we need to protect the seas and marine animals. It adds to those healed or who are able to help heal, or both, through the power of scuba. A growing dive industry creates jobs and adds new opportunities to global and local economies. And it all happens because you and I are passionate about diving. It drives us to produce. When we can’t find a way, we make a way.
The point is to nurture and preserve your love for diving, the oceans and those who share this love. It’s the key to being productive as a dive professional. It’s the heart of making the world better with diving. If teaching becomes more about getting students through mask clearing than that gleam in their eyes when they breathe underwater for the first time (believe me, I’ve been there), step back and reconnect. Make that cool dive (trip!) you’ve been putting off. Spend an hour with a buddy listening to whales sing, watching an octopus assemble its “yard” or whatever captures your fascination. Try that new suit, CCR, regulator or computer if tech is your hot button, or chase down that person who you just know will have a burning love for diving and can’t wait to get in the water.
Put first and foremost whatever makes you genuinely passionate about diving, the ocean and sharing them, and you won’t have to worry about how to be productive. You won’t be able to help it.
Italy Dive Fest is a yearly event organized in partnership between PADI and DAN, Divers Alert Network to promote diving activities in different regions in Italy.
Italy Dive Fest 2018 was held on the islands of Lampedusa and Linosa during 10-14th October. Manufacturers participating in the event 2018 were Cressi Sub, Aqua Lung, SUEX, ScubaPro, COLTRI SUB and the diving activities were organized by Marina Divers PADI 5-Star IDC Centre, Pelagos PADI 5-Star Centre and Moby Diving PADI 5-Star Dive Centre on Lampedusa and MareNostrum PADI Dive Resort on Linosa.
The event was also supported by the Pelagie Islands Marine Park Association (MPA) who provided facilities and conducted presentations on how they ensure all parties work together to protect the islands beautiful and unique underwater environment. MPA together with PADI and DAN held meetings during the event to bridge the two communities – Scuba Diving and the Fishing Industry. With these groups discovering ways we can work better together for the longevity of the Pelagie Islands.
The environmental movement started with pictures taken of our blue planet from space by the first space explorers. It was then that we first realized how fragile our planet is and why it is so important to act now, to prevent us from destroying all the beauty that took millions if not billions of years to evolve.
Marcel Proust said “the true voyage of discovery is not so much about finding new landscape as to get a new pair of eyes”. Diving in areas like Lampedusa and Linosa gives you those new eyes and with those new eyes a better understanding why we have to act now to protect the ocean.
The ocean takes up more than 75% of our planet, with an average depth of nearly 3,700 meters and home of a larger biodiversity and bio density than the rain forest. The ocean has more earthquakes and volcanoes than on land. You find the longest mountain range in the ocean. The World Ocean is the habitat of 230,000 known species, but because much of it is unexplored, the number of species that exist in the ocean is much larger, possibly over two million.
Our hope is that our photos and videos from the depths of the oceans and lakes during an event such as the Italy Dive Fest 2018 will inspire in the same way as those photos taken from space by the first space explorers, which started the first environmental movement. Therefore creating further awareness to protect the underwater world, inline with PADI’s mission.
Lampedusa is the largest island of the ItalianPelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The island of Lampedusa is part of the Sicilian province of Agrigento which also includes the smaller islands of Linosa and Lampione. It is the southernmost part of Italy and Italy’s southernmost island. Tunisia is only 113 kilometres away, Sicily is further at 205 kilometres, whilst the island nation of Malta is 176 kilometres to the east. Lampedusa has an area of 20 square kilometres and a population of about 6,000 people. Its main industries are fishing, agriculture and tourism. There are year-round flights from Lampedusa Airport to Palermo and Catania on the Sicilian mainland. In the summer, there are additional services to Rome and Milan, besides many other seasonal links with the Italian mainland.
Below is a short description of the activities during the Italy Dive Fest 2018.
TUESDAY, 9 OCTOBER
Italy Dive Fest 2018 started with the iXperience Tour in partnership between Aqua Lung, PADI and DAN. This included presentations about the PADI Enriched Air Specialty Diver Program, Aqua Lung Enriched Air Computers and DAN Research. Divers could test dive Enriched Air Computers during the day.
WEDNESDAY, 10 OCTOBER
The first day involved diving activities managed by the PADI Dive Centres on Lampedusa followed by research activities in the Diving Village by DANs Diving Safety Lab. Manufacturers like Cressi Sub and Aqua Lung invited divers to test dive new diving equipment. The evening presentation, Technical seminar on dive regulators, was held by ScubaPro in the Marine Park Associations facilities in Lampedusa followed by a presentation by Ernesto Azzurro from ISPRA (International Government Research Institution) about ‘Climate Change’ and the new research program ISPRA is conducting with the support of PADI Dive Centres around Italy.
THURSDAY & FRIDAY, 11-12 OCTOBER
The DAN Medical Team conducted Medical Checks during the day on divers from PADI Dive Centres, who also had a chance learn more about how Doppler tests work. SUEX conducted an intro dive on the SUEX Scooters and presented the new PADI Distinctive Specialty Dive Course ‘SUEX Advanced Scooter Diver’. During the evening PADI Regional Manager Fabio Figurella and Director of the Neapolitan Zoological Station Professor Franco Andaloro presented the new PADI Distinctive Specialty Diver Course “Environmentally Friendly Diver”
SATURDAY, 13 OCTOBER
The day was dedicated to a trip to the neighbouring island of Linosa. DAN, SUEX and PADI conducted dives on the island with the support of PADI Dive Resort Mare Nostrum. In the evening SUEX Marketing Manager Ivo Calabrese held a presentation about the HYDRA Project, a research project using scooters in the Santa Margaretha Ligure Marine Park. The evening finished off with announcing the winners of the Instagram Italy Dive Fest Photo Competition in partnership with EasyDive, with prizes from ScubaPro, Aqua Lung and Cressi Sub.
So did we achieve our goal of spreading awareness about diving activities around the Pelagic islands of Lampedusa and Linosa? We believe by introducing more divers to the amazing to the underwater world around these islands, by holding presentations about diving programs that help divers improve their diving and through PADI’s joint programs with partners such as the Marine Park Association, Divers Alert Network, Neapolitan Zoological Station and diving manufactures Cressi Sub, Aqua Lung, Scuba Pro, SUEX, Easy Dive and more – We truly believe we did!
So please continue to spread this message by posting photos and videos from the underwater world, just like the space explorers did 50 years ago of the blue dot we call home. Thanks to all that participated in this year’s Italy Dive Fest. Special thanks goes out to PADI Regional Manger Fabio Figurella who initiated the event and was the main organizer.
It has been a successful and busy summer of diving around the United Kingdom. As Regional Managers we have been out and about supporting Dive Centres and Instructors with a host of activities and events.
So, what has been happening? Member forums, charity events, EVE training seminars, business development workshops and AWARE Week, are just a few of the many events across the UK. We would like to thank you for your continued commitment and support at these forums, training days and events.
It has been particularly inspiring to see how many PADI Professionals have taken part in the PADI Adaptive Techniques Speciality Course this season. This focuses on increasing awareness of varying diver abilities and teaches PADI Pro’s student-centered and prescriptive approaches when adapting techniques to meet diver needs. This is a valuable course to enrol in during the winter months which can then be used for next year’s summer season of diving.
So, as we come into the winter months, we would like to see you all at Dive 2018 and offer our continued support and guidance to help increase marketing activity for all RRA’s.
DIVE 2018 is coming to the NEC, Birmingham on 27th – 28th October. This is a weekend not to be missed. The show attracts a large range of exhibitors showcasing the latest diving holidays, training courses and dive gear. Not only this, but there will be presentations from inspiring speakers who are shaping the Dive Industry. As well as a TekPool, the event will feature a Try Dive Pool making it a great event to take friends and family to who are interested in becoming divers. PADI have teamed up with DIVE 2018 to reward our PADI Members and PADI Divers with a 2-for-1 ticket offer. Please see here for ticket details. Both Emma Hewitt and Matt Clements will be at the show on the Saturday, so get in touch or seek us out at the show as it would be great to catch up and run through anything that you would like to work on.
Marketing & Event Support
The winter months are a great time to work on marketing material ahead of the 2019 summer season. There is a range of support available as well as assets ready for your use. Be sure to use the PADI Dropbox account for access to the latest marketing materials. As well as this, the PADI YouTube Channel and the image library on Flikr is a great source of visual content available for use. One of the surprise findings from the Dive Centre survey was the lack of branded vans, so why not apply for a PADI designed van wrap? There is also a host of support available if you are looking to step outside your centre and run an event or take part in a show.
AWARE Week 2018 was a great success around the United Kingdom, with many UK Dive Shops participating in a number of ways. The week entailed film nights featuring ocean conservation films, Dive Against Debris® events, beach cleans and even a baby lobster release.
To compliment AWARE Week, PADI® and Project AWARE® announced the launch of the updated Project AWARE Speciality course. This course can be taught by all Instructors and Assistant Instructors. PADI Divemasters who have completed the Speciality Instructor training with a PADI Course Director and applied at their PADI Regional Headquarters also qualify to teach this course.
The newly revised Speciality course provides information and support to help individuals take responsibility for ocean health, based on Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for divers. The purpose of the course is to unite scuba divers and water enthusiasts to make a difference. It makes individuals aware of the most pressing problems facing aquatic environments and how to protect them.
The participant’s prerequisites are that they only need to have an interest in the aquatic environment to enrol. There is no minimum age or experience requirement and it is run as a dry course, or “fins off” as Project AWARE like to call it.
With the winter months starting to close in, the Project AWARE Speciality course gives you a chance to get your dive team and customers together to learn about the pressing problems facing our oceans as well as the everyday actions that can be taken to help protect them. This is also a great course to reach out to youth groups and schools to get involved with, in order to teach young people about the importance of ocean protection. If you are a Centre and would like to know more about the PADI Approved Youth Training Scheme for your Centre then please contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant – Emily Petley-Jones (Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org).
There is a 10 Tips for Divers Toolkit on the Project AWARE website which includes Divers Handout and the poster. The instructor guide is on the PADI Pro’s site available as a free download and there are also lesson guides to help you in running your courses (Training Essentials> Curriculum> Specialities> Project AWARE Speciality Instructor Outline – v30).
The Project AWARE Specialty focuses on guiding participants toward the following personal commitments and actions they can take to help the environment…
One thing about divers and the tenacity of the human spirit is that when we face a challenge, we size it up and then find a way over it, around it or through it. We’re handling coral stress and decline the same way. Today divers, partnering with scientists, have been at the heart of dozens of coral restoration initiatives, with research and practice in coral farming and transplanting growing and spreading. In my last blog post, I linked to the Coral Restoration Project, birthed by diver Dr. David Vaughan of Mote Marine Laboratory, who in starting some of the first coral nurseries, discovered how to grow coral 25 to 40 times faster than before. His discovery is one of the major breakthroughs we needed to start replacing coral on a large scale, and is just one example.
Jump to PADI AmbassaDiver Andre Miller MSc in Barbados. Recognizing that documenting coral damage is important but not a solution, Andre spearheaded a local effort to relocate endangered corals and to repopulate damaged heads. With a 90+% survival rate, this effort has already spread to several destinations in the Caribbean. Check out this link for locations and some amazing before and after images.
One more example, the Coral Restoration Foundation™ and Curacao, with extensive participation by local PADI Dive Centers, visiting divers and the local dive community, their emphasis is staghorn and elkhorn corals, which are important because they provide structure and habitat, yet are listed as threatened by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Today, the Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo, Florida, has the capacity to grow more than 22,000 corals to a reef-ready size in one year, and has, to date, planted more than 74,000 corals back onto the Florida Reef Tract.
All the ways divers are central to restoring and reviving the underwater world could go on for pages, but three important points:
First, there’s a place for you in coral restoration. Head to tropical water and chances are the dive community’s doing it or getting it going – and needs your help because coral restoration requires divers. There is a lot of caretaking and routine maintenance to grow and transplant coral and to do this properly. Several dive operators teach PADI Coral Restoration distinctive specialties or host experiences that get you involved hands on. If you’re local and can participate regularly, even better. And, the coral colony you plant tomorrow could still be there — and much larger — when your descendants swim by on some dive in the distant future. Pretty cool.
Second, preservation is a pivotal part to coral restoration. Although restoration is accelerating, globally, coral decline is ahead. We have to address the drivers that accelerate coral loss as well as replant more to close this gap. Besides, replanting ultimately fails if new coral can’t survive anyway. So, every time you reduce your carbon footprint, recycle plastic, reduce debris, choose sustainable seafood, vote for the protection and conservation of aquatic resources and the marine environment and so on, you are helping to restore coral.
Third, we need to be realistic but also optimistic. Twenty-five million plus divers is an overwhelming force – with more than ten times the world’s largest military force, and an allegiance to a healthy, livable planet, it is a positive force that can change things. So, as I said before, the seas are in trouble, but the situation is far from hopeless because you’re on their side. We’re already moving, but let’s do more, faster. If you’re not sure where you fit in best, start your own journey and informed discussions with others.
When you hear reports about overfishing, global climate change, coral bleaching, shark finning . . . and the list goes on . . . it’s tempting to question whether the situation is hopeless. Will we have coral reefs in 30 years? Will anything be living in the seas in 50 years?
Yes, and yes. The seas face formidable challenges, but they have formidable allies – you, me and more than 25 million other divers around the world among them. It’s not just that you and your fellow divers can make difference, but that you’re already making a difference through personal efforts like recycling, responsibly consuming only sustainable seafood, reducing our carbon footprints and campaigning to protect endangered marine animals. These are vital efforts, none of which are wasted, with millions (and growing) of divers and nondivers doing these – which is great. But, compared to some outdoor groups, divers raise the bar for environmental stewardship and leadership. Beyond the forefront of conservation and preservation, divers are at the forefront of restoration.
The truth is, we face a much bigger threat than the issues facing the seas, and it is this: loss of hope. We don’t want our heads in the sand, but let’s not lose perspective amid the doom and gloom. There are thousands of healthy coral reefs and other dive sites around the world. By staying informed, innovative and engaged, we can not only visit these, but preserve them, learn from them and leverage them to rebuild and restore.
I believe in realistic optimism and hopeful future, partly because the data support them, but also because really, we have no choice. With hopelessness comes inaction, resignation and surrender, which solve nothing. Hope anchors our souls to what’s possible, to action, and to doing what needs to be done. This isn’t Pollyanna – no one expects the global environment to be like it was in 1618 – but it can be vibrant, healthy and growing. A healthy Earth with healthy seas can be the ultimate heritage we leave our children and theirs.