If you’re like me, you clearly remember the moment when you fell in love with the sea. Mine  was as a young boy, spending summers in the “Ocean State” when my grandparents and parents took me to the Rhode Island shore for the first time. I recall standing barefoot in the sand in awe at the ocean’s expanse, power and beauty, seeing a horseshoe crab scurry in the shallows while breathing in the briny sea air. That connected feeling seemed to permeate into my spirit and DNA and became a part of me. At summer’s end, I remember not wanting to leave and return to our family home on Long Island – but decades past that initial encounter, I remain connected to the ocean and that day.

Once the ocean becomes a part of us, we not only come to know and appreciate it, but engage and care about its future and survival amid the threats facing it. Our connection compels us to do something about these, and that was the genesis of Project AWARE in 1988. As divers, Project AWARE connected us with action – a means to make a difference, and we have. Partnered with Project AWARE we’ve guided and funded marine research and education, the removal of thousands of tons of debris, raised the protections for over-harvested species, and the list goes on with thousands of examples.

But, we can do more – we have to. We face formidable headwinds in bending the curve on damage to the sea, and the need for change is urgent and must accelerate. Solving global problems involves everyone, but divers in particular have power, the will, influence and a pivotal role to play in saving the seas. To this end, the PADI organization is putting its full weight and strength together with AWARE, united in the new PADI AWARE Foundation.

The PADI AWARE Foundation will leverage everything Project AWARE and PADI were already doing, but with an amplified global scale. The focus is on community and you – enabling the PADI worldwide infrastructure of dive centers, dive resorts and divers to take local action advocating, educating and in other ways working to restore the balance between humanity and the ocean on a global scale. The PADI AWARE Foundation already has new conservation programs, activist movements, public outreach, courses and partnerships in the works to directly take on marine debris, climate change, marine habitat loss, species protection and other threats.

Among the first of these will be PADI AWARE Foundation’s Community Grant Program, which aims directly at local initiatives by providing support funding to PADI Dive Centers and Resorts for actions right where they are – acting locally to make a difference globally. Keeping you connected, as part of the PADI Adventures app the PADI Conservation Activities Locator enables you to easily find and take part in environmental activities hosted by PADI Professionals and dive shops wherever you are – or plan to be. To learn more about the PADI AWARE Foundation, what it does, how to join in and how to support it, go here.


As you likely know, PADI has a goal of aggregating 1 billion PADI Torchbearers like you and me, all working to preserve and restore the ocean for a preferred future. It is important because you and I can and will make changes and differences, and to reach this goal, we need to be bringing new Torchbearers and partners into our fold constantly. When you help others build personal connections to the ocean like we have, they will understand why preserving the oceans means so much, and that will motivate them to join us, and to act with us.

That is, if they seek adventure, they can also help to save the ocean.

Good diving,

Drew Richardson

President & CEO PADI Worldwide

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