AWARE Week kick off Sept 14&15
The first night of AWARE Week we congregated at the PAYS area of Purple Turtle beach to watch 2 of our student short films “Reef Fishes of Dominica” by Shaun & Shervona Daniel, and “Ghost Fishing” by Mateo James, then our feature film; Mission Blue - the story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. It was exciting to watch the reactions as we premiered Mateo’s film, because not only was his video and the content quite impressive but when Mateo introduced the film he told everyone why he chose this topic “it pained me” he said, and he wanted to share that pain. This boy is only 12 years old and to me that is a pretty profound statement coming from our youth!
After the film we had a question / answer session where we discussed Mission Blue- the drastic changes we saw in the movie, that Sylvia has witnessed in her own life, and so much more. We discussed making better consumer choices not only in the food we eat, but the companies & businesses we support. We discussed industrial fishing and the global implications of it (including ghost gear / ghost fishing). We made commitments to our youth, to our future generations, that we would do what we can to protect the ocean from dying.
On Sunday, our divers arrived excited for our 3 part workshop on coral identification, coral reef conservation and coral health surveys. After the class session, it was time for 2 dives to identify and survey our corals! Divemaster’s Joy & Nickroy helped the divers juggle the flashlight, coral health chart, and their data sheets to make sure our divers could concentrate on their perfect buoyancy and surveying the corals properly.
After the divers descended onto their first dive, I was just starting our second coral workshop- this time for our non-divers, which included a diverse group of people including 12 girls from the Sparkle, Big sister, Little Sister program here in Dominica. It was a lively class with truly engaged students and after their workshop was complete we took half the group to the water to snorkel and identify different corals, healthy corals and corals that might be diseased or bleaching. In no time the girls were comfortable in the water, and not just identifying corals but spotting other animals and plants for Divemaster Donna and I to identify for them!
What an experience for all our staff and participants - looking at the ocean from a new perspective is a huge part of what SALT is all about, and we definitely did that for our divers who don’t necessarily spend too much time staring deeply into coral polyps, and for kids who may not have had so much swimming experience or maybe never looked through a mask before. During the class the girls said they knew what lionfish were but they had only seen them on their plate, and not 10 min into their snorkel they were face to face with a little lionfish which they now had a better understanding of - and less fear surrounding!
To me teaching about marine conservation is just as important as teaching scuba or snorkeling itself. I’ve always felt it’s the duty of every person with a (scuba) certification card to be ambassadors for the ocean, to give back through action, teaching, and spreading the passion for that aquatic realm. Just like the Big Sister Little Sister group says “Know Better, Do Better” !
Don’t miss out on next weekends SPLASH DAY where you can try scuba for just $50 (limited availability - pre register by clicking the link to reserve your spot) september 21 from 10am -2pm in Toucari
and our final day event: