Beneath the Waves with Project AWARE

beneath the waves project awareIn preparation for the Our Ocean 2015 international conference in Chile on October 5-6, US Secretary of State John Kerry has posed the question, “What will you do to protect the ocean?

Project AWARE’s answer? Taking action against trash through Dive Against Debris. Scuba divers everywhere are taking a stand against the onslaught of marine debris. With our underwater skill set, we’re uniquely positioned to shine light on what we see beneath the waves – the negative impacts of underwater debris on ocean ecosystems and wildlife.

Share your underwater marine debris photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #BeneathTheWaves. Project AWARE will add them to their global “Beneath the Waves” photo collage to show decision-makers your underwater perspective and urge for long-term, global solutions to the marine debris issue.

We have just 30 days to show what lurks beneath the waves – share your photos of trash underwater today!

The Our Ocean 2015 conference aims to promote voluntary governmental and institutional commitments to care for the ocean. Over 400 political, academic and civil society figures as well as industry, philanthropy and nonprofit leaders will discuss solutions to topics such as illegal fishing, marine plastic pollution, ocean acidification and climate change.

Through Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE divers remove and report marine debris found beneath the waves. The trash you remove during Dive Against Debris makes the ocean safer for marine life, and more importantly, the information you report helps inform policy change. Our Ocean 2015 offers divers the opportunity to use grassroots action to empower global change.

World Oceans Day 2015: Project AWARE explains the Ugly Journey of our Trash

How does our trash make its way from land to sea? Project AWARE’s new animated infographic explains the ugly journey, and shines light on the dangers our litter poses to marine ecosystems and wildlife along the way. While the marine debris issue may at first appear daunting, there is hope! With our underwater skill set, the dive community is uniquely positioned to contribute to global solutions by participating in Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE’s year-round underwater debris removal and reporting program.

We all want a healthy ocean and healthy planet – join Project AWARE in the fight against marine debris – become a Debris Activist this World Oceans Day and all year long!

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Our ocean is under siege. From everyday trash like plastic bags, food wrappers and drink bottles, to larger items like car batteries, kitchen appliances and fishing nets, our debris is entering the sea at an alarming rate. Our ocean has become a dumping ground.

Marine debris is not only unsightly, it’s dangerous to sea life, hazardous to human health, and costly to our economies. Marine animals can become entangled in debris or mistake small particles of trash for food – often with fatal results. Divers, swimmers and beachgoers can be directly harmed by encounters with debris or its toxins. And, the costs of plastic debris to marine ecosystems are estimated at 13 billion dollars a year. Better information about sources and impacts is extremely important to drive changes in infrastructure and waste management policies at all levels.

Who is responsible? All of us. Together we can help prevent and clear up this mess for a clean, healthy ocean planet.

Show your Dedication to Ocean Protection – Become a 100% AWARE Partner with Project AWARE

By Alexa Ward, Project AWARE Community Relations Specialist

Are you an instructor or dive centre that takes ocean protection to heart? We all want to keep our undersea world clean and healthy – not just for ourselves, but for the dive community, now and for future generations to come. If conservation is important to you and your business, consider becoming 100% AWARE.

Across the globe, PADI Instructors and Dive Centres are committing to ocean protection through 100% AWARE partnerships. 100% AWARE partners support a healthy and abundant ocean by making a donation to Project AWARE on behalf of each student that they certify through PADI PIC Online.* 100% AWARE partners’ ongoing contributions make a difference by providing vital funds to support Project AWARE’s two core areas of focus: marine debris prevention and shark and ray protection.

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Best of all students certified through a 100% AWARE partner will receive the Project AWARE version of their PADI certification card, so that they can proudly display their support and remember their positive experience with you! Divers value practices that protect the ocean and want to dive with instructors and dive centres that share their values – show them that you care!

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Ready to get started? Follow these easy steps to become a 100% AWARE Partner:

  • Get started by submitting your 100% AWARE partner agreement. Individual instructors and dive centres may apply. You have the option to donate $10 per certification card, or a flat donation of $250 per month.
  • Log into POL using the PADI member number on your 100% AWARE agreement and select your choice of preferred certification card.
  • That’s it! All your certifications will be automatically issued as AWARE cards without making a donation to process.

It’s easy to get started! Effortlessly support ocean protection with every certification – the benefits are endless! If you need any help along the way, Project AWARE is here to help. Simply contact Project AWARE’s Fundraising Specialist, Lauren Wiskerson at lauren.wiskerson@projectaware.org or click here to learn more.

*With the exception of EFR, Seal Team and Tec Rec.

Kick off #MyOceanChallenge this Endangered Species Day

myoceanchallengeAre you up for a challenge? Join the Endangered Species Day 2015 celebration by taking the My Ocean Challenge, Project AWARE’s new, exciting way to take action for ocean protection.

The challenges facing endangered marine species, big and small, have never been more pressing. With My Ocean Challenge, you can help tackle two of the biggest challenges faced by our ocean: marine debris and over-exploitation of sharks and rays.

Taking the My Ocean Challenge is a great way to raise awareness about endangered marine species and raise funds critical to protecting our ocean and its wildlife.

From running a marathon to baking cakes, participating in a sponsored abseil event or donating your birthday, the funds raised through your My Ocean Challenge fuel the grassroots action and policy change necessary to ensure a clean, healthy ocean planet for us today and for future generations.

On Endangered Species Day, May 15 – or starting any day you choose – go to projectaware.org/fundraise to kick off your My Ocean Challenge. A bike ride, skydive or taking part in a sponsored bungee jump – the possibilities are endless! My Ocean Challenge is all about challenging yourself to help protect the ocean. The only limit is your imagination!

Our ocean is facing tough challenges. Your challenge this Endangered Species Day and beyond: Fundraise for its protection.

Take Project AWARE’s #MyOceanChallenge

*Beginning on Endangered Species Day 2015, the first ten fundraisers to raise $500 or more will also be awarded with a Quikpod selfie stick so you can show the world how you took on the challenge!

Earth Day: It’s Our Turn to Lead

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April 22nd 2015 marks the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day. This year, under the theme “It’s Our Turn to Lead” the Project AWARE movement will once again lead efforts to tackle marine debris from beneath the surface of the waves.

We know only too well the devastating impacts marine debris has on ocean wildlife. And we see this first hand. In fact through Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, divers are truly able to lead efforts and actions to collect, remove and report data on what lies beneath the ocean surface. It’s a unique perspective, a different view point from the “out of sight – out of mind” view.

So this Earth Day let’s join together to show the world how divers are leading the fight against debris.

  1. Lead and Teach

Get the rating to teach Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris Specialty. From planning the dive to reporting the debris data, the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty prepares students to participate and support regular Dive Against Debris surveys, join other surveys, or, in case of more experienced divers, to start surveys of their own.

All applications received before 30th April will receive a Dive Against Debris mesh bag absolutely free! Apply direct to PADI today and they will donate your instructor application fee direct to Project AWARE.

All course materials can be downloaded free of charge from www.projectaware.org.

  1. Organize

Add your Dive Against Debris action to the Action Zone at www.projectaware.org/action-zone and invite your local community to take part. Be a leader and raise awareness locally.

Divers are leading the fight against marine debris every day and at every dive. Stay tuned to Project AWARE this April as we celebrate Earth Day and recognize Dive Against Debris heroes like you.

Dive Centre’s work together to clean up their local dive sites before Earth Day 2015

Trailer full of rubbish On March 1st Boating Marlborough Dive Centre (recently renamed Waikawa Dive Centre) in Picton, New Zealand organised an underwater clean up of the sea floor in the western arm of Double Cove. This was brought about by Kate Trayling, a dive instructor at Boating Marlborough Dive Centre noticing the rubbish when taking a student for a dive in the Cove. “ We have to do something about this, showing off our beautiful sounds is great but go underwater and in places it isn’t too beautiful.”

The response was amazing with a lot of encouragement from many individuals and companies.

Another local business –  Blenheim Dive Centre also contacted them to get involved and asked if they could collect the rubbish they had found and put in one place. They too had experienced the situation in Double Cove.

A clean up dive was organised and all assembled at the dive shop. In total 17 people, divers, boat helpers and three boats joined in. It wasn’t long before the scuba and free divers had amassed bottles, tyres, motor parts, buckets, pipes and unrecognizable objects from the sea floor.”I had to say stop to any more rubbish, and call the divers in, as the boats where fully loaded” said Stuart Scaife the organiser. “We only covered a small area really, and we were all surprised by the amount collected”.

This isn’t the only “clean up dives” or “Dive for Debris” that Boating Marlborough Dive Centre has been involved with, and they have worked in with other caring groups.

Their next rubbish dive is on 22nd April which is international “Earth Day” in which they will dive Waikawa Marina and start from where their last Earth Day dive finished. Last time they had divers from Christchurch and Nelson eager to help in this unique dive.

“All our rubbish clean up dives are free for helpers and divers” said Stuart. “We really appreciate the support we receive and people often donate the use of their boats, resources, and time to help out”rubbish group

To find out more about Earth Day visit http://www.earthday.org/ alternatively visit http://www.projectaware.org/ to find out how you can get involved or run an activity to help our underwater friends!

What Do You Love About the Ocean?

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Do something different this Valentine’s Day. Inspire your student divers to protect the underwater world by taking part in the #WhatILoveAbouttheOcean campaign.

Join Project AWARE in celebrating what divers everywhere love about the ocean:

  1. Share your favourite ocean picture on Twitter or Instagram using #WhatILoveAbouttheOcean. Your image will be automatically added to the campaign photo grid.
  2. Don’t have a Twitter or Instagram account? Don’t worry you can still participate by adding your photo directly to the #WhatILoveAbouttheOcean grid. Don’t forget to add a caption!
  3. Make a donation to help protect what you love for future generations.

Project AWARE will spread the love far and wide by featuring some of your best pics to inspire others to love and protect the ocean!

Share your love for the ocean this Valentine’s Day and head to Twitter to tweet your love: This #ValentinesDay I’m celebrating my ❤ for the ocean to inspire others to protect it #WhatILoveAbouttheOcean

Passions of Paradise in Cairns help volunteers to understand the Reef

Passions  Eye on the ReefAround 400 student volunteers who are learning about sustainable travel will visit the Great Barrier Reef with Passions of Paradise – a PADI Dive Boat Operator – during their stay in Cairns later this year.

Passions of Paradise Sales and Marketing Manager Adam O’Malley said the United States-based international volunteer program ISV had selected Passions of Paradise to host the students during their four-week trip to Australia.

“Groups of the students will arrive from June to September and their stay in Cairns will include a day trip on the Passions of Paradise catamaran to two pristine Great Barrier Reef locations,” he said.

ISV International Program Director Narelle Webber said ISV’s responsible adventure travel programs aimed to educate and inspire student volunteers to become more active global citizens.

“We selected Passions of Paradise to show the students the Great Barrier Reef as Passions is a like-minded company which will pass on the values of sustainable travel while offering a personalised adventure experience,” she said.

“We were impressed with Passions’ commitment to the Great Barrier Reef by becoming carbon neutral, assisting in the Reef’s conservation and sharing that passion with passengers by educating them about the World Heritage area they were visiting.”

Mr O’Malley said an eco-guide would give the students an informative briefing on the way to the Reef so they would understand the ecosystem they were about to experience.

“Passions of Paradise offers passengers the opportunity to participate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef program which the students may wish to participate in,” he said.

“We also raise awareness of the issues facing sharks with the on-board Save A Shark Program. Through this program, Passions has donated $25,000 in funds for student research into sharks.”

“As a small local owned company Passions of Paradise is proud to be giving back to the environment we work in and it is really rewarding to win a new customer like ISV based purely on our company’s commitment to operating sustainably on the Great Barrier Reef.”

The company’s commitment to research, education and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef has earned Passions of Paradise the 2014 Queensland Tourism Award and the 2014 Tropical North Queensland Tourism Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism, Ecotourism Australia’s 2013 Innovation in Ecotourism Award and to be selected as a 100% AWARE Partner through nonprofit environmental organization Project AWARE.

Celebrate #GivingTuesday – Give Back to the Ocean you Love

PADI is giving back to the ocean in celebration of #GivingTuesday – an international day to bring people together with a common purpose: to celebrate generosity and give thanks. To mark the beginning of the holiday season PADI will match all donations to Project AWARE up to $25,000 before 31st December.

And everyone who donates $150 or more also receives a limited edition Fourth Element t-shirt.

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PADI’s commitment to #GivingTuesday is an industry first and we encourage all dive centres and PADI divers to give back to the ocean and make #GivingTuesday a day for our ocean planet.

The time to protect the ocean is now – www.projectaware.org/give

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Sharks and Rays Without Borders

Project AWARE has another big opportunity to help make change for vanishing sharks and rays – one that only comes along once every three years. Every voice counts and we need yours!

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Please Take 3 Minutes of Action Today:

  • Send a Letter asking countries to work together for shark & ray protection
  • Join the Thunderclap to send a loud, unified message over social media #SharksWithoutBordersCMS4SHARKS

The Campaign: Beginning Nov 3rd, Project AWARE and partners will be in Ecuador, at the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP11) representing the diver voice among representatives from 120 nations. 21 species of sharks and rays are on the agenda – including some of our favorite hammerheads, silky sharks and reef mantas.

The Issue: Varied degrees of protection exist for sharks and rays around the globe. These animals migrate – crossing many political boundaries. A hammerhead protected here, is not necessarily protected elsewhere. For these ocean travelers, international cooperation is vital.

If Successful: Our voice – the voice of the dive community – can help persuade countries to work together, implementing international agreements for their protection.

Thank you for your 3 minutes today and thank you for giving sharks and rays a voice! Be sure to find out more or make a donation to support the campaign.