Interested in a unique opportunity to engage with ocean conservation, whether you’re an experienced diver or entirely new to the underwater world? The PADI AWARE Specialty course could be a great option for you. I took this newly updated course with zero experience in scuba diving. Allow me to share my personal experience, and how it reshaped my view of ocean conservation.

The course consists of two parts:

  • The PADI AWARE Specialty eLearning 
  • A one to two-hour workshop with a PADI Pro (either online or in person)

is elearning suitable for new divers

Part 1: The PADI AWARE Specialty eLearning 

After signing up for the course, you are led to your eLearning dashboard, which is super easy to navigate and provides access to all your course information. At the start of the course, you will find an introduction to the PADI AWARE Foundation and its mission: To drive local action for global ocean conservation. The mission is carried out through citizen science programs, public policy, and community grants. Having actively created an impact in conservation for over 30 years, the PADI AWARE Foundation tackles the increasingly prevalent issues in marine debris, securing protections for vulnerable species like sharks and rays, and empowering a global community to combat countless environmental problems.

The eLearning portion of the PADI AWARE Specialty course is broken down into 10 actionable sections:

•          Tip 1 – Be Ocean AWARE: Understand the significant role the ocean plays and the key threats facing the marine environment.

•          Tip 2 – Take Action: Every action, big or small, matters.

•          Tip 3 – Respect Wildlife: Practice role-model behavior. Do not touch, feed, or chase marine life.

•          Tip 4 – Be a Buoyancy Expert: Practice skillful buoyancy, whether diving, snorkeling or participating in a different water sport, in order to prevent harm to fragile marine ecosystems.

•          Tip 5 – Practice Responsible Imaging: Support conservation through accurate and respectful storytelling.

•          Tip 6 – Leave Only Bubbles, Take Only Trash: Leave no trace, and make a positive impact in the places you explore.

•          Tip 7 – Become a Citizen Scientist: Monitor and restore critical marine habitats to advance marine research.

•          Tip 8 – Be an Ecotourist: Choose facilities with responsible social and environmental business practices. Volunteer, donate or fundraise to protect what you love.

•          Tip 9 – Give Back: Volunteer, donate or fundraise to protect what you love.

•          Tip 10 – Join Us: Take the Save the Ocean Pledge and stay informed.

At the end of each section, there is a short quiz to solidify the learning and ensure you’re well-prepared. The eLearning course finishes with the longer PADI AWARE Specialty Knowledge Review, which you’ll need to complete before meeting with your PADI Professional.

a PADI Instructor gives a presentation about the PADI AWARE Foundation

Part 2: Workshop with a PADI Professional (Online or In Person)

The purpose of this section is to review what you learned in the eLearning course, set actionable goals, and gain valuable feedback from an Ocean AWARE expert. This workshop can be done in person at a PADI Dive Shop or via an online call. Because I’m located in the UK and my instructor was in the USA, we opted for a video call.

My instructor, Jillian from Pura Vida Divers, and I talked through each of the 10 tips in further detail. Reviewing the course with someone with so much in-depth knowledge and experience left me feeling completely inspired and ready to embark on this magical underwater journey.

Jillian gifted me with an understanding of just how much of an impact my individual actions have and how I can dive into the marine environment as a conscious explorer. She gave me advice on subjects like how to navigate the Dive Against Debris Map, where you can see individual marine debris clean up surveys that divers have completed around the world, and she was genuinely curious and eager to hear about my own experiences and the marine environment here in London (Jillian is based in Florida in the USA).

Jillian’s deep passion and love for the sea was completely infectious. Throughout the workshop, I listened with awe as she described the stunning wildlife and creatures buried beneath the ocean waves. It really did leave me itching to start diving, and her words sparked an inner fire to be one of the ones making a difference.

I walked out of the session with my own (fully filled-in) Take Action Worksheet, outlining my next steps towards ocean conservation, starting before I even get near the water.

I also took the Save the Ocean (also known as the Ocean Torchbearer) Pledge, becoming a critical part of the world’s largest community creating ocean change by pledging to protect and preserve our blue planet through actions and knowledge sharing.

Upon completion of the PADI AWARE Specialty course, everyone who passes the course receives a PADI AWARE Specialty certification and a digital card (eCard) as proof of their course participation, which they can show with pride when progressing as a scuba diver or environmentalist.

plastic in the ocean

After the Course: Impacts & Lifestyle Changes

For me, looking more carefully at my purchasing decisions has been my first actionable step to being Ocean AWARE. Understanding that plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris and that debris is often a result of our everyday purchasing has been a very powerful motivator. I’ve been in the process of removing avoidable single use plastics from my life, but this part of the course was a pivotal point for me; no more making exceptions to the rule when I fancy an ice tea – if the packaging is plastic then I simply won’t buy it.

As a non-diver planning to venture into the diving world, it was also good to understand that choosing my dive center responsibly has a huge impact on the ocean. Thankfully, there are tools, like the PADI Dive Shop Locater, to search for businesses that align with my personal ethos, including PADI Eco Centers.

Whether you are considering venturing into the world of diving or not, I highly recommend taking the PADI AWARE Specialty course. The syllabus offers a full, 360-degree view of how to approach diving, as well as your daily life, with a responsible and sustainable mindset and looks at steps to take action before you even step foot in the ocean. Having this knowledge allows you to make educated decisions, which will ultimately contribute to safeguarding our oceans for future generations. The course will also leave you inspired to change your daily habits for a healthier planet. Every ripple, no matter how small, can lead to big waves of change!

This blog was written by Jordan Crowley.

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