In February’s blog, I mentioned PADI AWARE’s Mission Hub Community Grant Program, which was established to provide funding for local ocean protection and restoration initiatives. Because saving the ocean requires thousands of Ocean Torchbearers acting locally worldwide, about a quarter of AWARE’s donations go to these grants, with a goal of reaching $1million in funding by 2024.

Just before Earth Day, PADI AWARE announced the first 16 initiatives to receive grants: six involve coral restoration, three species protection, two climate change, two marine protected areas, and three focus on marine debris. Every one of these not only demonstrated a worthwhile goal but innovation and creativity in attacking these ocean threats. Here are some examples:

Giant Kelp Restoration Project

The Giant Kelp Restoration Project recruits and teaches divers to protect and restore kelp in Monterey Bay, California. Besides preserving Monterey’s famed kelp forests, because kelp absorbs large amounts of CO2, this effort directly addresses climate change at the same time.

Coral Catch/Gili Shark Conservation Project

The Coral Catch/Gili Shark Conservation project in Indonesia ties ocean conservation with gender diversity by providing 20 scholarships to local women. Females are underrepresented in the local pro dive community, and this training will enable them to grow and plant corals in the Gili Matra Reserve.

Coral Restoration Challenge

In Mauritius, Dodo Divers has committed to a four-year, 10,000 metre2/2.5 acre coral restoration challenge. After noting significant coral decline at their popular Confetti Bay dive site, they used the time available during COVID lockdowns to launch coral farming there, with local divers and visitors now participating in the effort.

The Seahorse Trust

In the Mediterranean, the Seahorse Trust is a global organization that, much like PADI AWARE, leverages local actions to monitor and protect global seahorse species. Their Malta Research Project focuses on documenting two Maltese seahorse species and protecting them with public education and outreach.

The Bubbles Turtle Protection Project

In Malaysia, the Bubbles Turtle Project continues a marine turtle protection initiative Bubbles Dive Resort started in 2005. Through community outreach and education at local schools, the project is reducing local turtle egg consumption, as well as protecting nests. An effort that involves visiting divers, the local area now has the highest annual turtle nest and egg counts in the region.

No Trash Left Behind Project

In Florida, already involved with coral restoration with the local I.CARE organization the Florida Keys Dive Center No Trash Left Behind project aims to involve divers in weekly Dive Against Debris outings, with a goal of removing about 2300 kg/5000 lbs by the end of summer. 

Scuba diving in Cozumel

All PADI Dive Centers and local NGOs and charities can apply for grants that support and are consistent with the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action. But, don’t let it stop you if you have a suitable project but aren’t one of these – tie in your local PADI Dive Center or Resort working as the Mission Hub. Go here for more information and the application calendar.

Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela said, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.” In that spirit, it’s my hope you’ll unite with other PADI Ocean Torchbearers by engaging in local actions to help save the ocean, by creating some of your own, or even better – by doing both.

Seek adventure. Save the ocean.

Drew Richardson

PADI President & CEO PADI Worldwide

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