Over the past 26 years, Project AWARE has removed over 1 million pieces of trash, adopted over 300 dive sites, and supported the dive efforts of over 800,000 supporters in the AWARE community. Project AWARE utilizes donations toward shark and ray conservation, marine debris solutions, ocean protection, and global operations.

But you don’t have to be a trailblazer to make your mark. AWARE Week is from September 14-22, and there are tons of ways to get involved. Here are seven ways you can help protect our oceans and all of the marine life waiting for us beneath the surface.

Take the Dive Against Debris Specialty.

Ask your local dive shop about the Dive Against Debris Specialty. It’s a great way to learn about conservation efforts, best practices, and incorporate a cleanup on your favorite reef or dive site.

Pick up trash.

Whether you’re landlocked or near a body of water, picking up litter protects our waterways from plastic, straws, bags, and other debris that cause harm. Even picking up one plastic bottle from the road can make a big difference.

Sharpen your shark skills.

The AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Specialty course covers the effects of shark overfishing, bycatch, and finning while learning about shark behavior and shark encounter experiences.

Get social.

Engage your friends by promoting a favorite non-profit organization like Project AWARE or The Ocean Cleanup on your social media platforms. Donations not only help reverse the damage already done but also protect the ocean and its inhabitants for the future.

Think outside the box.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking friends for a donation, host a fundraising party or event with a conservation theme focused on sharks, turtles, or rays. Anything from a potluck dinner to a beer night with friends can raise awareness.

Go local.

Ask a favorite local restaurant or bar to join you in your efforts. Together, you can bring the community together and bring conservation awareness to those in your area.

Eat Sustainable Seafood.

Choose fish and seafood that is sustainable and not threatened due to overfishing or bycatch. Apps like The Seafood Watch App offer up-to-date seafood recommendations, seafood guides, and restaurants and stores nearby that serve ocean-friendly seafood.

No matter what you do, have fun. Raising conservation awareness isn’t just about donations and statistics, it’s also about bringing people together for a common goal – to make our oceans and our earth a cleaner, and safer place for all.

Check out these PADI Specialty Courses for those that want to help protect our ocean planet.

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