Education is Essential

Historian Daniel Boorstin once said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know,” and that applies to the threats to our oceans and global environment. The threats are not always obvious. Before you protest that they are, let me put it this way. I agree that plastic debris are a major threat, but how can we educate our communities that this is the case? Many people on this planet may not have seen the plastic pollution in the world that we have. Maybe a littered beach, but how do folks learn that it’s a global, not local, problem? It is clear from data-driven temperature and climate graphs that average global temperatures are rising, but how do we help our communities accept that this is an urgent, very real problem – that the upward temperature change rate is unprecedented and has continued steadily since we’ve started measuring it? Similarly, we know that recycling helps, and dumping motor oil on the street hurts, but how do we know?

The reality is that it is difficult to see global problems and solutions alone because they’re too big. We make them visible together,communicating and consolidating what we learn locally into the worldwide mosaic that shows us what’s going on globally. It’s how we know the problems, their magnitude and what works or should work to solve them. The scale of global threats means that education isn’t merely important, but essential in bringing about the social changes needed to restore and protect the environment. Unless we’re taught, most of us can’t know about them, much less our roles in solving them.

Thankfully, education is happening and it works. In a previous blog, I highlighted PADI Pros who educate youngsters about threats to the seas and teach rising generations to prioritize ocean health – after all, saving the seas is really saving us. And, studies find that teaching conservation can start effectively establishing these essential values as young as age four.

In 2015, the Global Education Monitoring report published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) found that “improving knowledge, instilling values, fostering beliefs and shifting attitudes, education has considerable power to help individual reconsider environmentally harmful lifestyles and behavior.” Educating across age ranges is particularly important amid cultures that have not traditionally needed to worry about the environment, but fortunately, recognizing that today we all have to worry about it, a growing number of countries require environmental education, and it’s working. Among them, India has environmental education programs targeted for learners from preschool through adult. It’s estimated that since 2003, in some form or other, these programs have reached 300 million students. The results have been varied and mixed, but generally good and trending positive, these programs are shaping attitudes about individual behaviors, choices and sustainability.

Admittedly, some have questioned the ability to reshape values past adolescence, but a 2017 study in People’s Republic of China studied the effect of environmental education on 287 older (college age) students at Minzu University, Beijing, and found “notable positive effects on environmental attitude.” Beyond this study, China has demonstrated the difference education can make when it supports, and is supported by, government efforts and policy. Formerly the number one consumer of shark fin soup (shark fin soup accounts for about 73 million sharks killed annually), a Wild Aid report says that since 2011 consumption has fallen 80 percent in China.

According to the report, declines in public shark fin demand in China resulted from awareness campaigns (education) coupled with the government’s ban on it for official functions and general discouragement of consuming shark fin. Retired pro basketball player Yao Ming is particularly credited with helping through a highly publicized public education outreach in his home country. Apparently, many people living in China didn’t even know what shark fin soup is (the translated name is “fish-wing-soup”), but now surveys show that more than 90 percent support banning it.

Although this is good news for sharks, the Wild Aid report also shows that shark fin consumption is still high and increasing in other countries. Why? As many as half of the consumers/potential consumers are unaware that shark consumption is threatening the animals and poses health hazards. The fix? China shows that education – similar campaigns in these countries – would likely be a great start.

This highlights a crucial point: We’re not all scuba instructors, college professors nor school teachers, but we are all educators. Whether it’s a dinner conversation with friends or gently correcting misconceptions in social media, it’s our responsibility as the oceans’ ambassadors to inform and influence others to see and understand the problems, and how we can make better choices to keep Earth sustainable.

Don’t underestimate your influence in doing this – as a diver, you’ve seen the underwater world’s wonder and fragility, and likely some of the damage, first-hand. What you can teach is compelling, and passes the sustainability imperative to our rising generation of educators. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

 

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Taking action for Ocean Health in 2019

Following on from the success of the Project AWARE Week last year, the dates for the 2019 Project AWARE Week are 14th – 22nd September 2019. This week represents a fantastic opportunity for dive centres, clubs and individual members to bring together their divers and take action to promote awareness of issues surrounding ocean health.


If you are planning to get involved with the Project AWARE Week 2019, here are some ideas you could consider:

• Use Project AWARE week to bring together the divers you have trained so far in 2019. This gives them a great opportunity to work as part of the diving community whilst learning about how we can help create awareness of our ocean health.

• Consider running the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris course in a few different locations. This way divers can see for themselves the challenges which are faced in the rising tide of trash which ends up in the oceans. You might also wish to consider opportunities for non-divers, such as beach or river bank clean-ups.

• The revised Project AWARE specialty was launched for the 2018 Project AWARE week, with a great reception. There is no minimum age for this course, which makes it a great tool to use when reaching out to schools and communities.

• Promote the events to your PADI Open Water referrals from 2019. Whilst they may have completed their open water dives in a different country, this is a great way to show them how welcoming the UK diving community is. They may also be interested in completing the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris at this time as well as September generally boasts some of the warmest water temperatures.

• Consider the marketing and social media opportunities which you could embrace as part of this week. Running beach clean-ups and Dive Against Debris dives are the sort of events which can attract great publicity whilst also benefitting the dive site or beach and the local community.

• For every dive trip you plan, arrange for one day to look at the ocean conservation issues local to your trip destination. In some destinations, you may find that there are coral conservation schemes, or research organisations working to protect certain species.

• Encourage your divers to complete the Dive Against Debris Adventure Dive during their Advanced Open Water course.

Of course, your ocean awareness activities don’t need to be restricted to one week. There are plenty of ways you can continually promote conservation and awareness efforts throughout the year.

Planning for the Unplanned

In February 2019, PADI hosted a UK Diving Safety event in Bristol. From the moment the event was announced, there was a real buzz around it, and justifiably so. With key presenters from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Diving Diseases Research Centre, British Diving Safety Group, Divers Alert Network, and PADI, the event brought together stalwarts of UK diving with a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with PADI Pros.

What was clear from the popularity of the event was the dedication from the PADI Pro community to do their utmost to promote safety for the divers they train. Whilst divers are always encouraged to “Plan the dive, then dive the plan”, the event brought into focus the consequences of what can happen when the unplanned happens.

A great starting place for PADI Pros in the UK to promote safety and planning for problems to their divers is to encourage them to complete the RNLI Diver Sea Survival Specialty . This specialty course launched in 2017, and covers lots of information pertinent to diving in the UK. The course is one which appeals to both beginners and professionals alike, including:

• New divers who certified overseas
• Dive professionals who have been working overseas, and would like a familiarisation of techniques for UK diving
• Divers looking to attend dive club trips to unfamiliar locations

If you are a PADI Instructor, you can download the PADI RNLI Diver Sea Survival Instructor Guide as well as the related course presentations from www.rnli.org/diveinstructor.

The RNLI Diver Sea Survival Course is a great way to promote diver safety awareness.

If you are working as part of a dive team, take time to review your “what if” procedures to ensure that your dive team are all clear on what your emergency protocols are. It is also a great time to get some in-water practice and scenarios for your staff. Consider running a staff training event where you practice different in-water scenarios. This would highlight areas for improvement in your plans. There is the opportunity in quieter months to also review your paperwork, including project plans and risk assessments to ensure they are up to date.

PADI Ambassadiver Luca Hales

Luca Hales is one of the PADI youngest Ambassadivers in the world, Luca is an Egyptian British twelve years old young man who is currently a PADI Master Scuba Diver with more than 200 dives under his belt.

I first met Luca in March 2018; Luca was present during a PADI Member Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, while PADI Member Forum is mainly for PADI professionals, I found this young man sat there talking to instructors and asking me if I need any help setting up.

At the time, Luca was an advanced diver and wanted to do more, Luca then teamed up with another passionate individual PADI Course Director Yahya Khairy, who sponsored Luca to do many courses with him during 2018, to become a PADI MSD with five specialities so far and is about to start another five specialities soon.

   

All I can say is that we need more young people like Luca who truly care about diving and about our oceans.

The God Father of the Hyperbaric Medicine Dr. Adel Taher

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Adel Taher on many occasions either during one of his seminars or during social events for divers.

I still haven’t met any diving professional or even a diver in Egypt who doesn’t know Dr. Adel and the amazing work.

Dr. Adel is the proud owner and manager of the Hyperbaric Medical Center in Sharm El Sheik. This centre recently celebrated 25 years, open 24 hours a day for 25 years serving divers.

The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame has announced the names of four new members who will be inducted into the hall of fame this year. One of the four Inductees this year is Dr. Adel; he will join fellow dive industry pioneers who have helped cultivate and revolutionize the sport of scuba diving.

Dr Adel is considered one of the world’s top experts in hyperbaric medicine, Dr. Adel Mohamed Taher is best known for establishing the most sophisticated diving medical facility in the Red Sea, which continues to provide a foundation of safety for the expanding dive tourism industry in the region and beyond.

As a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor since 1982, Dr. Taher has played a vital role in promoting diver safety in the Red Sea region by managing diving emergencies, participating in medical research projects and conferences, and acting as an adviser for governmental and non-governmental agencies.

 

On behalf of all divers and dive professionals in Egypt, I would like to thank you Dr. Adel

PADI DSD event breaks disabilities barriers

At the end of November, a group of PADI Instructors, in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia, gathered together and organized a Discover Scuba Diving event for people with special needs.

The aim of the event was to foster participant’s confidence in their abilities as well as providing basic information about diving, the training involved but most important …to share how scuba diving can help those with the most serious of physical injuries!

Twelve adults and two children from different regions of Saudi Arabia attended the event.

Here some testimonials:

Mazen Zahrani, 14 years old:
“Thanks to God and with the support of my mother, I was able to overcome these obstacles … it was a successful experience by all means and will allow me to experience other possibilities in life” 

Mazen’s mother commented:
“It was the dream of my dreams to see Mazen diving; I was very happy when I heard about a diving program for people with special needs: my happiness increased when I saw him in the water and I saw the ecstatic joy bursting out of him’.

Laila Al-Khawaja, mother of 13 years old Rawan Al-Khawaja:
“I do not want her to feel different from the rest of her peers. She is capable of doing everything and she will do an amazing job if we encourage her as well as the community …. diving helped to increase her strengths and determination but also contributed to the elimination of fear …which is our first concern “

Khalid al-Aqeel:
“What an experience: after the diving experience I felt like movement in my feet”

Muhsin Al-Ismail:
“Wonderful and unique, I would like to send a message to all members of society that there is no such thing as impossible: we are able to succeed in any area of service to society and the nation”

Hani Al-Nasser:
“I hope that diving will become a recognized sport for the special needs people and give them the opportunity to dive more”.

Abdullah Al Shahrani:
“We never expected that those who were not able to walk on their feet would be able to experience diving; I thought that only those with feet and legs are able to dive, I would repeat it whenever I have the opportunity”.

Congratulations to all the partecipants to the event:

1.         Mamdouh AlBalawi -KSA- Tabuk.
2.         Jafar Al-Hleil -KSA- Qatif.
3.         Khalid Al – Aqeel -KSA- Riyadh.
4.         Mohammed Al-Assadi -KSA- Riyadh.
5.         Abdullah Al-Shahrani -KSA- Riyadh.
6.         Mohammed Al-Ghazawi -KSA- Qatif.
7.         Bassam Al-Ruwaili -KSA- Arar.
8.         Abdullah Al-Qallaf -KSA- Sihat.
9.         Amr Dawood -KSA- Riyadh 
10.       Mazen Mohammed -KSA- Qatif.
11.       Yousef Jamea -KSA- Riyadh.
12.       Hani Al – Nasser -KSA- Qatif.
13.       Rawan AlKhawaja
14.       Mazen AlZahrani

And special thanks to all the PADI members involved:

Kasim Saeed – PADI Master Instructor
Mohammed Abo-Abdullah – PADI instructor
Hussain AlAbbas – PADI instructor
Aqeel AlKhamis – PADI instructor
Abdullah AlSadiq – PADI instructor
Ali AlSalim –PADI Assistant instructor
Ali AlBahrani – PADI Divemaster

WELL DONE …KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

PADI’s Mission 2020 Pledge: Join Us!

PADI’s long-standing commitment to ocean conservation began more than 25 years ago with the formation of Project AWARE® Foundation. In 2017, the PADI Pillars of Change were introduced to increase awareness of issues affecting our ocean communities, and to mobilize PADI Professionals and divers to act together as a catalyst for positive change. Now, the PADI organization is integrating the Mission 2020 effort to reduce plastics in the ocean into its overall commitment to ocean health and corporate citizenship ethos.

Aligning with PADI’s belief that greater change can be affected when working together, Mission 2020 is a collection of pledges from organizations within the diving community to change business practices to protect and preserve the ocean for the future. With a primary focus on single-use plastics, the project sets ambitious targets of changes to be made before World Oceans Day 2020.

PADI’s Mission 2020 Pledge

As PADI moves towards a fully integrated and digital learning system, we will lessen our dependency on plastics and packaging, thereby mitigating the plastic footprint of PADI Professionals and the million divers certified each year. To broaden our impact even further, PADI is committed to rallying our 6,600 Dive Centers and Resorts to reduce their use of single-use plastics by the year 2020. We invite everyone to make a pledge and to change their business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean.

“We are passionate about creating a preferred view of the future in healthier oceans. We have a strong legacy of environmental conservation behind us and a robust roadmap for continued progress that will drive our force for good responsibility well into the future. This is the foundation of PADI’s Mission 2020 pledge, and it is our hope that this project will inspire the PADI community to make immediate commitments that will lead to lasting change.’ – Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide

Why You Should Make a 2020 Commitment

It’s good for the planet – Changing your business practices to reduce plastics is good for the ocean and good for us too. Let’s protect the places we love to dive and make sure they are healthy for future generations.

It will enhance your business – Consumers are proud to attach themselves to a business with purpose. Show your customers that you care about the ocean and they will reward you with their loyalty.

It’s good for the dive industry – If we come together as an industry to protect our ocean planet, we set a good example for other businesses to follow. If a clean, healthy ocean is our goal, we need all the help we can get.

PADI’s Mission 2020 pledge to reduce plastic with help restore ocean health. Join us in protecting the underwater world we love.

Impactful Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use

  •  Prevent debris from getting into the ocean! Remove single use plastics like water bottles, plastic bags and plastic cups from your shop and dive boats.
  • Work with your local community to organize joint beach and underwater clean-up events. This effort brings awareness to everyone about how individual behaviors positively impact our environment.
  • Set monthly and yearly clean up goals for your local dive sites. Log the debris on the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris® App to contribute to data collection that could influence new ocean-friendly policies.
  • Protect your local waters and Adopt a Dive Site™. It’s the ideal way to engage in ongoing, local protection and monitoring of our underwater playgrounds.
  • Carry sustainably made merchandise in your dive center or resort. Make sure tee shirts, hoodies and other branded goods come from eco-friendly suppliers and are made from non-plastic materials or from recycled plastic fibers.
  • Make the switch to PADI eLearning® and improve your carbon footprint. Going digital reduces production of plastic materials and removes the need for shipping.

Make a Mission 2020 Pledge

All members of the dive community are encouraged to make a Mission 2020 pledge. And what a great time to align your pledge with your 2019 New Year’s resolutions! Whether sustainability is already a key component of your business model or you’re just getting started, we encourage you to join in by making adjustments (big and small) to your business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean. See what others in the industry have pledged on Mission 2020’s Who’s In page.

We believe that the global PADI family is a force for good that can help play a critical role in protecting and preserving our oceans for the future if we all make conservation a priority at our places of business.

Something We All Need

In 2008, something happened to Leo Morales that most of us can’t even imagine – his leg was amputated to stop aggressive cancer. But what would be lifelong setback for some didn’t deter him. Already a passionate diver, Morales not only went back to diving, he became an instructor and a tec diver. Then he set two records (depth and distance) for divers with disabilities. Then he . . . well, he grew into an impressive and accomplished person by any standard: a PADI AmbassaDiver, Tedx presenter, author and inspiring mentor for hundreds – maybe thousands of people. Amazingly, Morales says that if he could change the past and keep his leg, that he would not. “Scuba diving gave me my life back,” he says. He actually took his life backusing scuba, leveraging it to do more and now gives back more than many would expect. Amazing.

It’s a moving story, but only one example that diving, beyond its force for healing the oceans, heals people – and there are more stories than you can count. Paraplegic at age 12 from transerve myelitis, after the discovering freedom and therapy scuba gave her, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Cody Unser now uses scuba to help people living with paralysis, and participates in related research, through her First Step Foundation. Losing his legs in a combat zone, PADI Divemaster Chris Middleton, U.K. similarly found the healing power of scuba when he started diving with Deptherapy, and now works with Deptherapy to get more people involved.

And it’s not just physical healing. After serving in Iraq combat and discharged in 2014, US Marine Juan Gonzales had diagnosed Post Tramautic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It impeded having healthy connections with people – particularly his family – but discovered diving through WAVES (Wounded American Veterans Experience Scuba), which uses diving’s healing power to help veterans with physical or psychological wounds. Gonzales says the peace he experiences diving has been a major help in his battle with PTSD.

PADI Course Director Thomas Koch can’t hear, but with scuba, his “disability” turns into an advantage. Why? When his daughter Claire got her Junior Open Water Scuba Diver certification with PADI Course Director Cristina Zenato, they talked as fluently and as much as they always do – underwater, using American Sign Language.

There are hundreds of stories – miracles really – about how, through diving, people have helped, healed and comforted. There are literally hundreds of dive professionals and divers who serve divers with disabilities, and you bring honor and meaning to the dive community as a Force for Good.

But, the truth is, scuba’s healing power goes beyond this because everyone needs healing at times. The dynamics of life can often hurt. There are times when it feels like the weight of the world got dumped on your back. Maybe you can’t sleep and you’re not much fun to be around. Maybe the people you care about most don’t get to see your best, and yet they worry about you. And you see it in their eyes.

Then you go diving . . . and something wonderful happens. The worry world stays at the surface as you descend into the underwater world. Your mind clears. What’s really important can finally break through. Your buddy signals, “okay?” And for the first time in a long time, you really mean it when you reply, “okay!” Maybe it takes a couple of “doses” (dives), but you become you again. It reflects in the faces of those you care about.

My point is this. We share diving because it’s a wonderful experience that we’re passionate about, but we should also share it because it’s a restoring, healing experience. Some of us need it more than others, but that’s something we all need.

Wishing you the happiest New Year,

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Whale rescue in Seychelles carried out by Qatari PADI divers

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).