Becoming an Ocean Ambassador
As divers we have an incredible relationship with the ocean. Part of the reason for us to dive is to be exposed to an alien world. We gear up, check our gauges and giant stride into a weightless world where humans are the outsiders. After a great day of amazing diving, we sit on our bar stools with magic in our eyes as we retell one of our greatest adventures that undoubtedly all started with our descent.
With this kind of love, who else should take up the torch and campaign for the safety of the blue and all of it's citizens? We have an innate attraction to the walls and caverns of the ocean, so why not us--it's humble tourists take action in protecting it and educating others on it.
When I tell people I'm a diver, I get the standard "But aren't you afraid of [insert species here; usually sharks]?!" I answer them honestly, "No" and then go on to tell them a little bit about these apex predators Letting them in on a bit of information about shark fining and it's disastrous effects. A little information can dispel a lot of undue fear!
So, by this point you may be asking yourself "Now what? I want to help, but how?" Well, here's a few places you can start.
1) Read up on what's happening.
Learning about what's happening will give your opinion weight. You might find a certain area gives you an extra charge of interest. For me, sharks are a huge interest of mine. You can do this via a simple Google search or cruising to your local library (put down that Twilight book!). The more you know, the better off you are when trying to help a cause or inform a friend. Be it oceans or even lakes and water ways, your knowledge will help inform your decisions and maybe impact a few of the people you meet.
2) Take Initiative.
You can make a difference. Whether it's through donation or while your on your next dive you take a minute to remove a coke bottle or old shoe from your favorite dive site. Everything you do make a difference! Be your own eco-ranger by scheduling beach clean ups or participating in ones hosted by your Local Dive Shop! Things you might want to pick up: A mesh bag for garbage collection and a good dive knife for cutting old fishing lines and nets.
Check out the joy of these divers, cutting free a Whale Shark from discarded ropes.
3) You Are What You Eat!
Your mom was right. What you put in your body reflects your values on the world around you. SeaChoice has a great website with recommendations of food that is safe and ethically sound to eat! It's not a party when there's mercury poison invited, so make sure you check out the whats-what of safe food choices.
4) Project Aware Courses Are Available
If you haven't heard yet, Project Aware has a course called AWARE Coral Reef Conservation, as well as AWARE Shark Specialty which means that you can use this as a way of getting your Advanced Openwater or just a great Diver Specialty.
5) Find Organizations that call to you
Whether it's proper treatment of animals or oil spills. Check out the organizations that call to your specific interests. Most people are afraid of where their money will go if they donate. Charities in Canada are required to upon request, tell you where your money is going. Remember, not all of it can go directly to the cause, there are some over head costs associated with Charities and Funds that require money spent (rent, staffing and products like brochures) elsewhere.
Here's a list of Organizations you can check out:
- Project Aware: A great organization created for divers who want to be involved in various projects like Marine Litter, Shark Awareness and Coral reserves. A great place to donate, you can even do it with your next certification! Students can opt to have their diver cert card changed to a cool background (whale sharks, mantas) with a donation to Project Aware.
-The Dolphin Project: A charity founded to help educate people on the marine animals (specifically dolphins) kept in captivity.
- Save Our Seas: Ready with information and many causes. Save our Sea's has given coverage to a lot of issues that often go unnoticed. One of the more diverse charities, check them out for information.
These steps are just a few of whats available to you. With the internet, we divers have a plethora of platforms to voice our opinions on the things we love most. I hope this has given to a little insight (and maybe a little push) on what you can do to help give a voice to the one thing we all have in common; a love for the sea. The amazing thing about divers, is that no matter where you are in the world, what language you speak you always can pull up a stool and talk about diving. Let's use this magnificent gift for the best!