As the lucky minority who get to personally see and experience life below the surface, divers have the unique perspective and responsibility to be powerful advocates for the ocean. PADI Dive Centers and Resorts worldwide are leading the way for divers to get involved in conservation efforts that have a positive and lasting impact on issues impacting ocean health – locally and across the globe.
From setting an example through sustainable business practices to leading Dives Against Debris® and implementing coral restoration programs, here are just a few of the many dive shops inspiring others to join the movement to save the ocean.
- Ceningan Divers in Bali, Indonesia has developed an extensive education center to help their guests and divers around the world better understand the impact we have on the environment, reef and ocean. With the support of their in-house marine biologist, they have released a new online learning portal giving worldwide access to their conservation workshops and courses while travels are limited. But that’s not nearly all. Currently ranked the number one Green Fins operator in Indonesia and fourth in the world, Ceningan Divers leads by example. Their team and volunteers conduct weekly cleanups to remove rubbish from beaches, mangroves, streets and fields of Nusa Ceningan in an effort to keep the island clean. They have eliminated single use plastics from their operations, implemented recycling, upcycling and composting, source sustainable and/or local products for its bar and restaurant, take action to reduce carbon emissions, and only allows reef-safe sun protection. An 100% AWARE dive center, they conduct regular Dives Against Debris®, work in partnership with various community partners to monitor and conserve local reefs and have a working mangrove nursery at the resort.
- The staff at ConnectOcean Aquatic Academy in Guanacaste, Costa Rica includes instructors, biologists, and scientists with one common goal – conservation and promoting their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs. Designed by scientists, the ConnectOcean Explorer program offers a hands-on curriculum that provides first-hand experience on observation protocols and data collection. “The program becomes a recipe on how to create a Hope Spot in your local community,” says PADI Course Director Ernst Van Der Poll, founder of Connect Ocean. Once these future Hope Spots and MPAs are in place, the work doesn’t stop there. Many governments and conservation groups don’t have the resources to regulate these protected areas. To address this issue, ConnectOcean integrated an app with geolocations to collect data and manage the protected areas through four categories: fish identification, rays, sharks, and vessel surveys.
- Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire is a founding partner of the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire. The foundation assists the local government and environmentalists in preserving the existing genetic diversity of staghorn and elkhorn corals, established a nursery and restoration program designed to restore the shallow reefs, and to works with the community to identify and reduce land-based stressors, such as uncontrolled storm water runoff and poor sewage treatment practices. Buddy Dive also promotes eco-conscious practices around the resort and hosts marine life educational programs to help keep divers informed and involved.
- Kappi-Divers was the first 100% AWARE Dive Center in Germany, contributing to Project AWARE’s work to protect ocean health with a donation on behalf of every diver certification they issue. As typical for 100% AWARE dive centers, Kappi-Divers puts a special focus on teaching about environmental awareness during all their courses, they organize underwater clean-ups when possible and they minimize the use of plastic in their business. They are also a strong supporter of Shark Project. Numerous other dive shops in the region, including SGS Tauchen, Eat Sleep and Dive in Switzerland and Dive Company in Austria, are also 100% AWARE and conduct cleanups of local waters, dive sites and nearby parks.
- Evolution in Malapascua, Philippines is a Top 10 Green Fin member each year. They make every dive a clean-up dive. Evolution has made it part of their ethos to clean up every time they see garbage. All their instructors and divemasters carry mesh bags with them on every dive to make sure they can collect anything they see. They let their divers know this in the briefings so that divers can point out items that could be collected; and if the divers are experienced enough and feel comfortable helping, then extra bags are available for the guests to bring along too. The conduct regular organized clean-up dives, the staff clean the beach daily, they conduct crown of thorns control and are working towards coral propagation. No single use plastics or harsh chemicals are allowed on the resort. They are continually working to lower their environmental impact, and are purchasing and installing equipment to help the island better upcycle plastic. The owner lives by example, having installed solar panels on his home to live off the grid.
- Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Florida, USA encourages dive leaders and members of the community to come together for marine conservation and debris removal activities. While gathering together for the regular activities hasn’t been possible in recent months, Rainbow Reef is hosting online courses focused on educating people about important issues impacting ocean health. Virtual courses like the Project AWARE Specialty have enabled many to stay involved in ocean conservation efforts from home until they can dive back in.
“The seas face formidable challenges, but they have formidable allies – you, me and more than 25 million other divers around the world among them,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “As divers, we have a unique vantage point, able to personally witness the impacts we as a human race have on ocean environments, both the good and the bad. With this perspective comes the responsibility to be advocates for the ocean and the life within. We can stay informed, get engaged, initiate conversations and educate others about the issues. We can support like-minded business, organizations and development of social norms and institutions that allow responsible management of ocean resources. We all can make informed choices about how we live our lives. Together, as a global community of divers, we become powerful agents of change who share a love, mission and passion to be a force for good to mitigate the problems that threaten our ocean planet.”
To learn more about how you can join the community of PADI Torchbearers who explore and protect our ocean, visit padi.com/conservation or connect with your PADI Dive Center or Resort to see how you can get involved locally.