In an on-going effort to support marine conservation across the scuba diving community, the Sea of Change Foundation is launching a new fund to help support the immediate response to coral reef damage from anchor drops, vessel groundings, oil spills, and other localized, anthropogenic and acute impacts to coral reefs.
The Sea of Change Foundation team first envisioned the Reef Rescue & Rapid Response Fund during the 2016 implementation of the Foundation’s Cayman Islands Coral Nurseries project with feedback from multiple local dive operators and partners. Then on March 4, 2017, the 4,290-tonne Caledonian Sky cruise ship grounded on a treasured dive site in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and damaged or destroyed approximately 1,600 square meters of some of the most biodiverse and pristine coral reef habitat in the world. This event solidified the resolve of the Foundation to create a fund dedicated to helping enable a timely response to such incidents.
The fund provides for mini-grants that range from $500 to a maximum of $5000. The grants will support divers, and their communities in responding quickly to a reef damaging incident by helping to cover immediate costs such as boat fuel, staff time, video cameras, lift bags, transect tapes, and handheld GPS units. A short-form, 1-page application is required that describes the date and cause of the incident and the planned response. Anticipated responses may include damage assessment and documentation for future litigation and restoration, and/or collection of coral fragments for regrowth, and/or up-righting of larger corals that may recover in situ. Applicants need only send an initial email inquiry to info(at)seaofchange.com to begin the short process to acquire the requested funds. A brief follow-up report and photo-documentation will also be required.
It is the hope of the Board of Directors of the Sea of Change Foundation that this new fund and the grants it provides will empower and enable the global dive community to continue to act as first-responders to reef damaging incidents. “The reefs are where we dive, and often they are why we dive; it is our duty to do all that we can to help protect them,” said Samantha Whitcraft, Director of Conservation & Outreach for the Foundation and Platinum-Pro 5000 diver. And, she continued, “we hope divers everywhere will make use of and support this new fund.” Importantly, “through the Foundation, 100% of donations go directly to such conservation initiatives around the world to ensure future generations of divers can also experience the sea and its wonders,” concluded Wayne Brown, CEO of Aggressor Fleet® and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation.