Visiting PADI members together with Sheridan Hatcher from Marketing is always full on going from dive center to dive center. Our main goal during these visits is to improve our 5 Star members online/social media/web exposure and any other ways we can assist our members. In Vanuatu to some extent these members are still dealing with the aftermath of the cyclone that hit Port Villa almost one year ago. However, sometimes on these marketing/P5M trips we run into something that is unexpected. On our visit to Tranquillity Island, a PADI 5 Star Dive Center the dive shop managers, Toby and Erica asked us if we wanted to see the Turtle Sanctuary that is based on the island.
Tranquillity Island Resort, with a lot of effort by its owner, Owen Drew, for the last ten years or so has proudly run a voluntary Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program, based right at the resort. They have upwards of 300 juvenile turtles that are raised from hatchlings until they reach 1 year old, before they tag and release them into the ocean. To date they released over 1200 healthy Hawksbills! The project works with The South Pacific Environmental Program (SPREP) and the Vanuatu government but is voluntary and apart from looking after the turtles, Tranquility runs an ongoing public awareness program. The tagging has so far shown that some of the turtles have migrated to Fiji, North of Vanuatu and the East coast of Australia. SPREP maintains a data base for the tagging of all turtles in the Pacific Islands
Hawksbill Turtles are considered critically endangered, meaning the species faces a very high risk of total extinction. The first year of their lives is the most perilous, many get snatched by hungry predators before even tasting the ocean. Humans, however, are the greatest threat. Plastic waste chocking our oceans; unsustainable fishing methods; propeller-damage from speedboats, jet skis and other vessels are amongst the key killers of sea turtles. Not only are they considered the most endangered species of turtle, Hawksbills rank as the 4th most endangered species on the planet according to the WWF, behind the Amur Leopard, the Black Rhino, and the Cross-River Gorilla.
What a great project run by a team that know their stuff too. Pretty much all of our PADI members contribute something to the environment and that is something to be very proud of. Over the past two decades of underwater conservation we’ve learned that divers are true leaders in ocean protection. We’re ocean heroes numbering in the millions across the globe. We believe together our actions will make a huge impact and will help to rescue the ocean. Weather you take fishing line out of the ocean during your dives, take some trash off the beach or volunteer at a turtle sanctuary as divers we care about our environment and protect our ocean planet – one dive at the time.
Hans Ullrich, PADI Regional Manager