As the leader of “Dive Safety Through Education,” the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI Worldwide) and the community dedicated to the NAUI Green Diver Initiative (GDI) are working diligently to empower individuals to preserve and conserve the ocean planet.
“The end of April 22 did not signify the end of Earth Day projects and celebrations for NAUI divers,” said NAUI Communications Coordinator Angie Cowan. “It marked only the continuation of our global efforts to sustain the aquatic resources that we, as divers, enjoy and appreciate so much.”
Since late April, NAUI divers have been organizing events that would soon lead up to and introduce June’s “World Environment Day” and “World Oceans Day” awareness campaigns. In recognition of these campaigns, NAUI divers across the world are making an impact by acting, as well as encouraging people to get outdoors and embrace nature.
“The theme of this year’s World Environment Day and World Oceans Day are ‘Connecting People to Nature’ and ‘Our Oceans, Our Future’ and what better messages for NAUI to endorse as a worldwide organization and sharer of this water planet,” said Cowan. “As a leader in the scuba industry, NAUI works hard to promote diver education and safety, a mission that includes the protection and conservation of aquatic resources the industry relies upon. Through the engagement and action of our NAUI network, the Green Diver Initiative has become an excellent means to support a range of outreach and conservation projects.”
The most recent project took place on June 3 in Sarasota, Florida, as a group of 60 individuals – organized by Scuba Quest and Sarasota Bay Watch and joined by NAUI GDI divers and the Sarasota Police Dive Team – hit the waters with six paddle craft, two jet skis and two police boats to combat marine debris and manage the docks. As a result, about 300 pounds of lead, 42 cast nets, PVC pipe, five dive knives, a gas meter, a transport dolly and countless lures and other fishing gear were collected over the weekend during the bay cleanup.
The initiatives over the weekend were not limited to only North America. Over 200 NAUI divers and volunteers in Brazil assembled for its 17th cleanup of the Rio Jundiaí-Mirim river in Jundiaí – State of Säo Paulo. The river acts as the main supply source of water for the City of Oakland Park. This initiative has increased in recent years, not only in numbers of participants, but with its reduction in the debris removed from the river.
In mid-May, NAUI divers Xtreme Dive Center (XDC) in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon, in collaboration with Operation Big Blue Association (OBBA), the Lebanese non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting and monitoring the coastal and marine environment, performed an underwater clean-up, which resulted in the removal of plastic bags, aluminum, rubber and tires, cloth, foil, nets and other debris. Environmental collaboration for the month of May did not stop there. NAUI divers in Tampa, Florida, with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District, The Florida Aquarium, Brandon Scuba, and the Center for Open Exploration, joined and removed nearly 100 pounds of plastic festival beads and trinkets and 70 pounds of trash along a stretch of the Bay’s Seddon Channel that covered approximately 1,000 feet along and about 75 feet out from the seawall.
Other global efforts include early March’s research dives in the Middle East led by NAUI GDI divers in Oman who joined the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs and Fisherman Training Institute of Khaboora to collect fish samples for data and research that contribute to marine awareness.
NAUI’s community of divers is not only diversified geographically, it is also distinct generationally. “I’m not sure which hits home more: watching preservation efforts come together ‘internationally’ or watching the dedication pass down to the younger generations,” said Cowan.
Earlier this year, a Green Diver Initiative Dive4Change grant was awarded to student divers, who, in celebration of Earth Day in April, used the opportunity to work alongside Costa Rican students for certification in the first part of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Underwater Archaeology mapping skills course through ECU Maritime Studies while exchanging and establishing ideas for conservation and environmental projects for the future. The youth divers also participated in an artificial reef survey course, a new Discovery Deep citizen science program. Both courses were conducted at Rum Runner Dive Shop, a GDI dive partner, a NAUI dive shop, and site of the Pitt County Youth Scuba Club. A new initiative of the Club is the “Keep Your Bottom Clean” project. The youth have researched and presented their project ideas for underwater clean-ups, including a reusable bag that can be clipped to a BC for easy use underwater.
NAUI challenges stakeholders across the industry to take action to protect and preserve our shared global water resources. Getting Started is Easy – Simply download our Dive4Change Tool-Kit (http://www.nauigreendiver.org/uploads/6/3/1/2/63129521/gdi_-_dive4change_tool-kit_2016_-_final.pdf ). By supporting GDI with your Dive4Change event, you are providing essential resources for GDI to support programs like the new Dive4Change Grant Program.
Remember…A healthy and vibrant environment is vital for the long-term sustainability of the diving industry. For more information, visit www.naui.org and www.nauigreendiver.org. If you would like to contribute to the GDI Dive4Change grant program, visit: http://www.nauigreendiver.org/dive4change-grant.html.