AWARE Week Successes and Stories

Article by Tara Bradley

As AWARE Week wrapped up on 23 September, the amount of dive operators, instructors, and dive communities that participated in events throughout the world was impressive. From Project AWARE Specialty courses, to neighborhood barbecues to Dive Against Debris® events collecting over 22,000 pounds of trash, here’s how our fellow dive operators helped make AWARE Week a success.

United Arab Emirates: Divers Down UAE

Divers Down UAE collected over 110 pounds of marine debris during their Dive Against Debris event. As a way of creating shark awareness, they also conducted an AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty course for 14 of their PADI divers.

Thailand: Crystal Dive Koh Tao

The team at Crystal Dive Koh Tao spent the week conducting Dive Against Debris and AWARE Shark Conservation specialties. To finish off the event, they celebrated with a free barbecue night for all of the participants.

Curacao: Blue Bay on Curacao

A group of volunteers came together in Curacao for a beach clean-up at Hole 6. In addition to the two full boats of divers and snorkelers, participants signed up for the PADI Invasive Lion Fish Specialty Course to assist in catching the invasive species.

Australia: Dive Centre Manly

The group at Dive Centre Manly gathered 30 people for their “Blue Backyard Cleanup.” The majority of the items retrieved were plastic wrappers, single-use coffee cups, straws, cutlery, Styrofoam, and hundreds of unidentifiable pieces of plastic. As an added reward, the nearby Hawkesbury Brewing Co. gave the participants a very well-deserved free beer.

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Spain: Balky Sub

In Spain, Balky Sub’s group were on one of the area’s cleaner dive sites and still recovered more than 11 pounds of plastic in one day – mostly consisting of plastic bottles and bags. And since every day is AWARE Week for this team, they make an effort to pick up trash from the ocean and beach on a daily basis.

Philippines: Dive Funatics

Before they conducted their monthly Dive Against Debris event on 22 September, Dive Funatics, located in the Philippines held a peak performance buoyancy clinic to ensure all of their divers had a chance to polish up their buoyancy. To thank their divers, participants received a T-shirt in addition to a bracelet made of upcycled debris collected from their August Dive Against Debris event.

Jordan: Deep Blue Dive Center

Deep Blue Dive Center teamed up with the Tala Bay Resort team by hosting a Dive Against Debris at Tala Bay marina on 12 September. The result: The crew cleaned up over 140 pounds of waste in 20 bags. But they didn’t stop there. The following week, a group of 15 divers conducted another clean-up.

Bonaire: Dive Friends Bonaire

From 15-21 September, Dive Friends Bonaire organized a range of activities to fight ocean pollution. With seven locations and five house reefs on-island, the group worked to promote conservation with Dive Against Debris dives on every house reef.

Florida: Rainbow Reef Divers

Since Rainbow Reef divers host a Dive Against Debris event every month, they were quick to jump into action for AWARE Week. In September, their boat removed and recorded over 2,000 pounds of marine debris.

AWARE Week may be over, but there are countless ways to keep your local community involved all year long. Here’s How to Make Every Week AWARE Week.

Action on the Ground: World Oceans Day

Written by PADI Regional Manager Jen Clent 

It was so great to see so many communities coming together all over the world for World Oceans Day last month. With so much action on the ground and readily accessible education available, the future is bright and through these actions I believe it is possible to make a difference and help our ocean planet!

Chiara collecting trash underwater

The dive community in particular is in a unique position to lead this change as essentially, the ocean is our office and if the office lights are out where would we go to work?

Only when we show the world the beauty and wonder (along with the human impact) of our oceans will people learn to care and advocate for our oceans going forward.

Through education and initiatives by the dive community we can encourage everyone all over the world to start making life choices which will positively impact our planet.

Happy Dive Against Debris Divers

The small island of Gili Trawangan in Indonesia did exactly that last month for World Oceans Day 2018.  Coming together as a community, raising awareness, educating locals and tourists about ongoing action we can all take, the weekend was a huge success and something which can and should be emulated in the future.

In conjunction with the Gili Eco Trust – an NGO based on Gili Trawangan, many of the small islands dive businesses came together, promoting and running conservation events across the weekend of June 8th/9th. Both the local community (including many of the children), divers, instructors in training, and tourists got involved.

Hosting marine conservation presentations and encouraging divers to complete their PADI Dive Against Debris Specialty course, many divers learned techniques to safely collect the debris and used both the Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® App and the data card to record and submit the data which is then added to a global map which is available to see here.

Reporting the data

Not only did the weekend create many new Dive Against Debris Specialty divers but one of the local Course Director’s who was in the middle of an Instructor Development Course also encouraged the candidates to complete their Dive Against Debris Specialty Instructor rating over the weekend.

All this action on the ground contributes to a global picture enabling us to see what specific items are found in specific locations. This helps identify areas around the world where waste prevention efforts are needed most.

Below is a global snapshot of what is currently being removed and reported to Project AWARE:Ten Branches Chart Slide Template 1

When we zoom in on the data provided by members in Indonesia, we find that the top 10 items found underwater in Indonesia based on past surveys are;

  • Food Wrappers (plastic),
  • Plastic Fragments,
  • Bags – Grocery/Retail (plastic),
  • Beverage Bottles: less than 2 litres (plastic),
  • Bags: Trash (plastic),
  • Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons (plastic),
  • Containers: Fast Food, Lunch Boxes & Similar,
  • Clothing,
  • Cloth Fragments, and
  • Paper, Cardboard Fragments.

Happy divers getting involved!

Of course to encourage participation in events like this (and ensuring they are successful) making learning and participation fun is key! Games are a fantastic way of doing this when you have children involved such as having kids pick which trash goes in which rubbish bin.

Identifying which trash goes in which bin

Another idea is to show how easy it is to reuse trash – these kids and volunteers were making underwater critters out of recycled plastics and debris – jellyfish and sea turtles were just some of the marine creatures made.

Getting the children involved in key!

With a global movement underway it is fantastic to see this kind of passion from our valued members out there not only teaching the world to dive but including a message of conservation every step of the way!

A huge shout out to all our members who got involved, not only on World Oceans Day, but who do their bit every single day out there in all corners of the world!

For more information on how to get involved visit the Project AWARE Website or sign up for a conservation focused specialty instructor rating at your local dive centre or resort. Visit the conservation area on PADI.com to learn more about adopting a dive site in your local area.

Don’t forget to also get involved with AWARE Week this 15-23 September 2018.

AWARE Week – Save the Date

From 15-23 September 2018, the PADI® family will join forces with Project AWARE® to celebrate the -environment and education. The focus of AWARE Week for PADI Pros is teaching the three AWARE specialty courses – Project AWARE, AWARE Shark Conservation Diver and Dive Against Debris® – and inspiring divers to act on what they learn to protect the aquatic environment. Based on the successful 2017 AWARE Week project in the United Kingdom, this year’s AWARE Week has gone global.

WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE PART

Perfect Timing – As the dive season slows in northern climates and ramps up in the southern latitudes, divers are ready for events that get them in the water. The bonus is they get to learn more about things that matter to them and are able to contribute by diving against debris or observing sharks. It also helps them step up the continuing education ladder. Participating in AWARE Week allows you to really connect with customers while boosting your September certifications.

Build Advocates – The more divers know about the state of the ocean and the threats to aquatic resources, the more likely they’ll be to make better personal environmental choices and become advocates for change. Education is the key to supporting PADI’s Ocean Health and Marine Life Protection Pillars and furthering Project AWARE’s efforts. Training Dive Against Debris divers not only expands your participant list for your monthly Dive Against Debris dives, but it also creates more people who will say no to single-use plastics. Showing divers the continued pressure being put on the shark populations will create more people to defend sharks on both the local and global level.

Personal Improvement – If you already can offer all of the AWARE specialties, then teaching them during AWARE Week will help you build certifications toward your next professional level. If you aren’t authorized to teach Dive Against Debris or AWARE Shark Conservation Diver yet, then this is a great time for you to add to your professional qualifications. Get the training you need and/or send in your application soon so that you’re ready to teach in September. Also note that your instructor application fee is donated to Project AWARE.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

Fill the Week – Connect courses with events to fill the week. Offering a big Dive Against Debris survey at your local dive site is obvious, but also plan to offer other activities. Invite local environmental experts to speak to your divers about sharks, rays or any other endangered or threatened species in your area. Show environmental videos that explain the extent of plastic pollution or highlight how to make better choices to protect the environment. Try to focus on what’s occurring locally because that’s where your divers can make the biggest change.

Download Tools – Go to projectaware.org to get all the tools you need to teach AWARE Specialties along with supporting promotional graphics from the AWARE Week host page.

One more important thing: The Project AWARE Specialty is being updated to guide divers through the “10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet,” including discussions about how to take personal action. Watch for announcements about the release of the new instructor guide as you prepare for AWARE Week.

For more information visit the AWARE Week host page for PADI Pros. 

Help Improve Our Oceans

Written by Megan Denny

National Geographic estimates 5.25 trillion pieces of trash end up in the ocean every year. That’s about 700 pieces of trash for every man, woman and child on the planet. And, a lot of that rubbish is plastic. The volume and types of trash in the ocean affects all marine creatures, from the smallest zooplankton to the largest whales.

As a dive professional, you’re uniquely qualified to help turn the tide toward a healthier ocean. There are many ways to make a difference including participating in year-round Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® surveys or organizing a special event on Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. Here are a few suggestions and examples of what other PADI® Pros are doing for International Coastal Cleanup Day this September.

Saturday, 16 September

International Coastal Cleanup Day is an ideal way to do important work for the local community and raise awareness about your business. Here are some tips for running a successful cleanup event:

  • Get the word out – Send a short press release to local news organisations (templates and tools are available on the PADI Pros’ Site).
  • Stock up – Encourage divers to get equipped with mesh collection bags, knives and gloves. Invite topside participants to bring gardening gloves, but bring extra gloves for those who forget.
  • Buddy up – Invite local environmental organizations to participate and help get the word out.
  • Create incentives – Jack’s Diving Locker in Hawai’i offers a free rental tank and half off rental gear to divers participating in their shoreline and underwater cleanup. Their 2017 event takes place on International Coastal Cleanup Day at the Kailua-Kona Pier from 9am – noon.
  • Document your activities: create a recap video or slideshow to share on social media and with local news outlets.

Take Action Year Round

You don’t need to wait for International Coastal Cleanup Day to take action. Through Dive Against Debris surveys, divers can remove debris throughout the year at any dive location across the globe. If you dive at the same site frequently, why not adopt it? Project AWARE provides a suite of survey tools and a yearly report on the state of your local dive site. Simply conduct Dive Against Debris surveys once a month and report the marine debris you find. Receive special recognition for your efforts in addition to the feel-good benefits of helping the planet and local community. Learn more at: projectaware.org/adoptadivesite.

Make Good Choices

While out of the water there are things you can do to support a clean and healthy ocean.

Say “no” to single-use plastics – Especially items like cups, straws and cutlery. Choose reusable snack bags over plastic ones, and switch to biodegradable trash bags. Plastic production has skyrocketed from 7 million tons in 1950 to almost 300 million tons today. What’s even scarier: most of that plastic is still around. By reducing plastic consumption we can reduce the plastic pollution in our ocean. Here’s a humorous video you can share online to encourage friends to avoid disposable plastics.

Donate to Project AWARE – Challenge friends, family and your student divers to do the same by creating a fundraising campaign. Get started at org/support. You can also peruse fundraising campaigns from fellow ocean-lovers at Finathon.org.

ReMember: Support Project AWARE with your PADI Member Renewal

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As a PADI® Professional you play a critical role in leading action locally to protect our ocean planet. Your support joins together with Project AWARE’s wider global dive community to make united and strong conservation actions.

This PADI Member Renewal season ReMember to support ocean protection with a donation to Project AWARE®.

Your renewed commitment gives the ocean a voice. It helps Project AWARE secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protects marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

“There are so many significant problems facing mankind, but as divers this is truly our cause. If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will?” – John Cronin, PADI Co-Founder

Project AWARE, PADI’s environmental partner, is dedicated to mobilizing PADI Pros like you with the tools and resources to take action locally. Together we can advance the health of the ocean for future generations and our industry.

Your donation supports hands-on citizen science, education and local marine conservation actions tailored for the dive community across the globe. Your donation helps Project AWARE continue its work and get results.

Go to the PADI Pros’ Site to update your credit or debit card details and add your donation* to support Project AWARE’s critical conservation work today! Or ask your Customer Service team how you can make a donation.

* Gifts of AU$25 or more received during PADI Member Renewals will receive a new limited edition Project AWARE silky shark mask strap pad as a special thank you for your renewed support.

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About Project AWARE

Project AWARE Foundation is a global movement of scuba divers protecting our ocean planet – one dive at a time. Focused on the critical issues of Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris, Project AWARE empowers thousands of divers in more than 180 countries to work together for a clean, healthy and abundant ocean planet. Project AWARE Foundation is a registered non-profit organization. www.projectaware.org

Perth Scuba on a Mission to Protect Our Dive Sites

Perth-scuba-manta-club-ammo-jetty-19jun2016-2-600x338

On Sunday 19th June, Perth Scuba’s very own Manta Club embarked on a mission to protect one of their local Dive Sites, Ammuntion (Ammo) Jetty.

Inspired by Project AWARE’s Adopt a Dive Site campaign, the club have ‘adopted,’ Ammo Jetty to ensure it’s protection for future divers.

The campaign encourages dive centres around the world to conduct ongoing local monitoring to protect their favourite underwater playgrounds. Dive Centres or Dive Clubs that Adopt a Dive Site conduct regular surveys of marine debris and submit the data they collect so it can be used to increase debris removal efforts and shape policy changes.

Manta Club kicked off their dive with a hearty BBQ and hopes that the meteorologists who predicted 70% chance of rain would be wrong. Under the water they were surprised to find no fishing chairs, but still the usual suspects remained – bricks, old bait and fishing line and of course a few beer bottles.

Thanks everyone at Perth Scuba and all members of Manta Club, who’ve committed to protecting Ammo Jetty and good luck on your mission to Dive Against Debris.

If you’d like to Adopt a Dive Site, visit the Project AWARE website.

Project AWARE Divers Pledge to Protect their Underwater Playgrounds

Project AWARE Divers Pledge to Protect their Underwater Playgrounds

On Earth Day, April 22, Project AWARE® announced its latest initiative supporting the fight against marine debris: Adopt a Dive Site™. Harnessing the unique underwater skill set of the scuba diving community, Adopt a Dive Site urges scuba diving leaders around the globe – including dive instructors, dive centres and resorts – to engage in ongoing, local protection and monitoring of our underwater playgrounds.

Participants of Adopt a Dive Site commit to carry out monthly Dive Against Debris surveys, reporting types and quantities of marine debris found underwater each month from the same location.

Adopt a Dive Site sits within Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris and empowers scuba divers to remove marine debris from the ocean and report data on the types, quantities and locations of materials collected.

Since the program’s launch in 2011, more than 25,000 divers have participated in Dive Against Debris in more than 50 countries around the world, reporting almost 600,000 pieces of trash. This incredible effort has saved the lives of many ocean species and helped make our ocean cleaner, but the unfortunate reality is that there is still much more trash in the ocean, largely unreported. The Adopt a Dive Site initiative aims to close this data gap and ignite a new wave of ocean stewardship and optimism.

Adopt a Dive Site participants’ local, repeated surveys will help improve the health of ocean ecosystems. But more importantly, they will provide valuable, much-needed information about marine debris to help inform policy change.

“By targeting specific areas with repeat surveys, we’ll be able to further bridge the gap in knowledge of quantity and types of marine debris found under our ocean waves,” says Joanne Marston, Campaign Manager, Project AWARE.

“What’s more,” adds Joanne, “based on the data we receive, we’ll actively seek solutions to some of the localised waste management problems communities’ face. It’s the beginning of an exciting wave of change as we mobilise our passionate dive community to take ownership of the sites they frequent. Together our movement is leading ocean protection from the frontlines.”

Project AWARE is thrilled to welcome its new Adopt a Dive Site leaders, dive centres and resorts and kick off a new wave of stewardship. Together, Adopt a Dive Site participants will help build a strong and vibrant community of activists dedicated to the fight against marine debris.

To learn more, visit www.projectaware.org/adoptadivesite