Black In Marine Science is a group of Black Marine Scientists and allies organizing and coordinating an online event to engage all Black Marine Scientists and our supporters. November 29 – December 5th 2020 marked the first Black in Marine Science Week, arranged by Dr. Tiara Moore and covering the topics highlighted below.

As PADI Torchbearers, our vision is a world where humanity lives in balance with the ocean. To achieve this, we’ve made it our mission to create a billion Torchbearers to explore and protect the ocean, a global force for good guided by the Torchbearer Five Community Goals.

At face value, it may seem like saving the ocean is an environmental issue only. If we just keep trying harder at what we’ve already been doing these past 20+ years, that one day we’ll wake up and we’ll have done it. The ocean will be “saved” and the world will be full of rainbows and unicorns.

OK, so that’s not exactly the reality. In fact, it’s not the reality AT ALL. To create real protections for the ocean, we need to think outside the traditional conservation box. Innovative organisations like The Ocean Agency and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef are already doing this by thinking differently about how citizen science and social media can be used to #savetheocean. Meanwhile, small & sustainable businesses are cropping up all over the place, offering new, ecologically-rewarding products that are part of the solution, rather than the cause. And this is all awesome, really, it is!

But there’s one little (or not so little!) issue: race and gender inequality in our societies.

To save the ocean will take all of us, and that means re-enforcing an atmosphere in marine science and diving that makes space for people of all genders and races. Failing to do so means self-sabotaging and ultimately missing out on major insights that would help us all to overcome our social and ecological challenges. And that’s not even touching on the emotional impact it’s having on those excluded from the party.

We need a marine science and diving industry that reflects the full diversity of our abundant and beautiful planet, so we may fully understand it and work towards a future where we can live symbiotically (hang on, maybe we could even learn a thing or two from the corals themselves!).

To understand Black In Marine Science Week, why it exists and how we can all contribute to a more inclusive and diverse marine science and diving industry, we caught up with Dr. Tiara Moore to tell us all!

Here’s a clip from Tiara introducing herself for Black in Marine Science Week 2020…

Q: Hi Tiara, Thanks for joining us to talk all about #BlackInMarineScienceWeek! Would you tell us a little about yourself, and of course, we all want to know – are a PADI Diver?

A: I’m Dr. Tiara Moore founder of #BlackInMarineScienceWeek and postdoctoral scholar at The Nature Conservancy. Yes, I received my PADI Rec diving and AAUS scientific diving certifications in 2013.

Q: What is Black in Marine Science Week?

A: Black in Marine Science Week is an event aimed to highlight Black people in marine science. The lack of diversity in marine science matched with the global civil unrest caused by the murders of Black people sparked an initiative to show Black people excelling and not to be seen as predators.

Q: Absolutely we recognise that the dive industry (and marine science in general) has some way to go in terms of diversity and inclusivity. Do you have any stories to tell that could help explain the issue to those that may not have encountered it before?

A: Horror stories I would say. As a Black marine scientist and diver, I’m never really expected to be there. There are times when I tell people I’m a marine scientist and they ask me if I can swim. There was one diving experience I remember someone asking me if I was there to carry the tanks. Because there is this global stereotype that Black people don’t swim, in the marine world I’m seen as not belonging.

Q: Do you see a link between social equality and healthy oceans? How does that work?

A: Yes. How we treat people is how we are also treating our oceans. More pristine locations with more money are taken care of and usually have a white watershed, whereas funding isn’t given to minority areas and we find more degraded and unhealthy oceans. All the water is connected so we need to care about all of it!

Q: Black in Marine Science Week kicks off at the end of November each year. Could you explain what was on the cards for 2020 and how divers could get involved?

A: It was a week of panels, workshops, and social events aiming to highlight the excellence of Black marine scientists. To get involved visit our website or follow us on social media!

Q: If divers or dive professionals want to support a more inclusive and diverse diving industry, do you have any advice on how they can go about being part of the solution? Where can people learn more about this issue?

A: Listen to the minority divers around you and ask them about their experiences. If you don’t have any minority divers around you, then start there! Partner with organizations like Black Girls Dive or the National Association of Black Divers. We are out here, folx just aren’t looking!

Q: What advice would you give PADI as an organisation looking to improve BPOC access to the underwater world?

A: Make diving more accessible! Provide scholarships or funding to minority’s to help them access the world of diving, because honestly if it wasn’t for the sponsorship I received from a science project, I would have never even considered diving due to the expense! Also, we should highlight all divers, it is known as a mostly white activity so I believe PADI can use its large platform to highlight more diverse divers and dispel these myths that we don’t exist.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Yes, can we talk about dive gear for one second!! Masks are NOT made for natural hair Afros and texture, I’ve had so much damage done to my hair from my mask. Also wetsuits for ALL body types, I currently use a male wetsuit because women’s don’t fit me right. Let’s partner and get some better designs for all!!

To hear more from Dr. Tiara Moore, check out our Torchbearer Q&A on the PADI Torchbearer Facebook Group. Alternatively, watch the insightful “Diving While Black” Panel from BIMS Week 2020 below. For a full collection of 2020’s recordings, head to the Black in Marine Science YouTube Channel.

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