Building Coalitions on Land to Help with Underwater Clean-ups

Building Coalitions on Land to Help with Underwater Clean-ups

Admit it, you’ve got them. I know I do. We’ve all got them. And, as much as we’d like to convert them, we will probably always have them. I’m talking about our non-diving friends, of course. But, if you’re like me, you’ve likely tried to explain the virtues of diving to them; the exhilaration and simultaneous feeling of relaxation, the unimaginable beauty and enchantment, and the unyielding desire to be in the water as much as possible. They don’t understand it though. Not really. They see the world as a terrestrial realm, not an aquatic realm. My non-diver friends are the reason I took up underwater photography. I wanted to show them what they could not see for themselves. I wanted to show them a part of the world they could only imagine.

–> Click here to help us cleaning up!

As it turns out, one thing I and my land-loving buddies have in common is the environment. We all want clean water, even if some of us only use it when we’re thirsty. Since my dried-out pals don’t dive, I realized they probably have no idea about the darker side of the underwater world: Marine debris. Yeah, they hear about it here and there. But there’s nothing like a diver who’s been there, seen that, and has pictures of it. And, let me tell you, those pictures can be just as impactful as any shot of a sea turtle, octopus or whale shark.

The PADI 5 Star CDC I work with, Emerald Sea Divers, has been in business since long enough to know our underwater world looked much cleaner in the past than it does today. So, when I asked for help with Dive Against Debris surveys, it wasn’t hard to find divers who were interested. And, because we all share the goal of clean water, it’s also not that hard to find non-divers willing to help. While the divers are busy… diving, the non-divers help with diver check-in and check-out procedures, organizing land clean-ups, taking pictures, and sometimes making lunch.

One of the luckiest connections I made with a non-diver was with Justin Hobbs, the park manager of our local dive park. This is the park that surrounds Woahink Lake, where we do most of our training dives and most of our marine debris surveys. Justin has become an indispensable ally in our efforts to clean up the lake. I keep him in the loop of our planned clean-ups and I give him regular updates and send him pictures of our results. He makes sure we have the space available we need to conduct clean-ups and he and his team responsibly dispose of the debris after we bring it ashore and categorize it. This alliance is immensely valuable.

Justin is always amazed by the things we bring to the surface. He has expressed his gratitude and thanks to our divers many times. But without him and his team, our successes would require so much more work. Our new non-diving friends at the park deserve major credit for helping make the world a better place. Now that they see what’s down there, they happily do their part on land to support our efforts underwater.

What world do your non-diver friends see? If you show them the world we see, they may or may not become divers, but they might just become valuable partners for Dive Against Debris. So, next time you do a survey dive, ask your land-locked friend to get involved. You may be surprised how helpful non-divers can be for our underwater activities.

Contact Project AWARE at http://www.projectaware.org, PADI at http://www.padi.com or 1-800-729-7234, or us for more information. Let’s help Project AWARE fulfill its mission of “connecting the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation.” Show others the world we see and let’s change the world to the way we want to see it.