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Marine Life & Conservation

A Commitment As Deep As the Caribbean Sea: Sandals® Resorts and Beaches® Resorts Reach New Milestone in Sustainable Scuba Diving Practices

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As long-standing partners immersing travelers under the colorful depths of the Caribbean Sea with a sustainable-first approach, today – together with PADI – Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts celebrate their newly obtained Green Fins digital membership. This coveted milestone marks the first resort company to adopt this conservation management approach across the entirety of its growing portfolio across eight Caribbean islands and counting.

Implemented internationally by The Reef-World Foundation in partnership with the UN Environment Programme, the Green Fins program is designed to protect coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines that promote sustainable scuba diving and snorkeling.

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“Here in the Caribbean, the ocean is a part of our everyday lives, and the health of our underwater ecosystems plays a role in the livelihoods of our friends, families, and neighbors,” said Michael Clarke, Corporate Director of Watersports for Sandals Resorts International. “As new members of Green Fins across our entire resort portfolio, Sandals and Beaches are upholding their vows to protect and restore our natural resources so guests visiting from every corner of the earth can experience the crown of the Caribbean while generations to come continue to prosper from its resources.”

Through the creation and logging of action plans curated according to the Green Fins code of conduct, all levels of staff at Sandals’ and Beaches’ on-resort, PADI-certified dive shops will engage in solutions aimed at reducing environmental impact. Participation in Green Fins will expand on the resorts’ existing conservation practices, which include rotating dive site visits to manage human interaction with wildlife, invasive species management, encouraging the use of reef-safe sunscreen, and providing snorkelers and scuba divers with briefings on eco-friendly behaviors before they jump into the diverse waters of the Caribbean. Combined, these efforts drive down operational footprints on the natural world, both above and below the surface.

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“As PADI Mission Hubs, Sandals and Beaches are incredibly important strategic partners for PADI. Their scale and shared commitment to a healthier future helps advance our mission to create more ocean ambassadors who can go out and not only explore but also protect the ocean,” said Katie Thompson, PADI Global Director, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. “We proudly continue forward on this important journey with Sandals and Beaches and celebrate them as the first PADI resort company that can boast 100% Green Fins status.”

Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts are also actively engaged in PADI AWARE Foundation’s Adopt the Blue Program – through which dive centers adopt a dive site from PADI’s global inventory, taking responsibility for its cleanliness via ocean clean-ups, reporting changes in its ecosystem, and presenting a willingness to take conservation action as recommended by specialists.

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“We are thrilled to see Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts leading the way in sustainable tourism for resort companies, leaning on Green Fins as a benchmark for environmental standards with the organization’s unique resources and monitoring mechanism to measure performance,”  JJ Harvey, Operations Director of The Reef-World Foundation. “This is an important step in their environmental commitment, and with Green Fins, they now count on the world’s only recognized eco-focused standard for scuba diving and snorkeling, as the tool to do so.”

The Caribbean’s Most Comprehensive Dive Program: Sharing the Skill and Forging Forward 

A Reef-World survey of sustainability in the marine tourism industry found that over 80% of divers are seeking sustainable operators that prioritize marine life conservation when booking a trip, emphasizing not only the importance of but also the strong demand for sustainable and regenerative tourism. Dive-certified guests and snorkelers can explore the Caribbean’s colorful coral reefs as part of the all-inclusive experience across all Sandals’ and Beaches’ PADI-certified dive centers. For new divers, certifications can be administered on-resort, with over 140,000 PADI certifications fulfilled to date – the largest number of certifications completed by any PADI partner. These certifications have played an integral role in building the PADI Ocean Torchbearer army, a movement of united ocean conservationists, along with sustainable on-resort hands-on experiences in the form of courses and dives, including PADI coral restoration and PADI invasive lionfish management.

Paying it Forward with ‘The Gift of Blue’

Ever-creating opportunities for Caribbean travelers to be a part of the ocean conservation movement, this year, Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts are dedicating its holiday sale to the oceans it calls home – turning Black Friday “blue” with the ‘Gift of Blue’ sale. In addition to an air credit valued at up to $750 and a resort credit of up to $250, Sandals and Beaches will donate $50 to the Sandals Foundation’s ocean conservation efforts – more specifically, the expansion of coral nurseries throughout the Caribbean, which houses 10% of the world’s underwater ecosystems – for every booking made between Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday.

To book your next vacation and donate to the Sandals Foundation’s ocean conservation efforts through the “Gift of Blue” sale, please visit: www.sandals.com/gift-of-blue-sale and www.beaches.com/gift-of-blue-sale.

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About Sandals Resorts

Sandals® Resorts offers two people in love the ease and refinement of the most-awarded luxury all-inclusive vacation experience in the Caribbean. With 18 beachfront settings in Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Curaçao, and Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, each resort reflects the design, cuisine, and unique essence of its island home. From butler service and gourmet dining to top-shelf liquor and luxurious suites, including the Caribbean’s first Overwater Villas, Sandals Resorts creates the time and moments necessary for couples to reconnect and focus on what matters most: each other. Notorious for pioneering innovations that constantly evolve and elevate the all-inclusive vacation experience, Sandals Resorts has recently introduced fresh concepts such as the brand’s first-ever double infinity pool and an off-site Island Inclusive dining program, while staying true to its Caribbean roots and showcasing the transformative link between tourism and its power to transform lives through its philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation. Sandals Resorts is part of family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI) which includes family-friendly Beaches Resorts, and is the Caribbean’s leading all-inclusive resort company. For more information about the Sandals Resorts Luxury Included® difference, visit www.sandals.com.

About Beaches Resorts

Beaches® Resorts is the Caribbean’s most-awarded luxury family all-inclusive vacation experience, where memories are created and made to last. With three spectacular locations in Turks & Caicos and Jamaica, Beaches Resorts is the ultimate beachfront getaway for every member of the family. Kids can hang with the Sesame Street gang as part of the Caribbean Adventures with Sesame Street®, splash in outrageous waterparks and enjoy the XBOX® Play Lounges, exclusive Kids Camps and teen nightclubs, while parents indulge in butler service, luxurious spa treatments, gourmet restaurants and all with the assurance of Certified Nannies and expertly trained team members. Beaches Resorts is part of family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI), which includes Luxury Included® Sandals Resorts, and is the Caribbean’s leading all-inclusive resort company.  For more information about Beaches Resorts, visit www.beaches.com.

About PADI ® 

PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) is the largest purpose-driven diving organization with a global network of 6,600 dive centers and resorts, 128,000 professional members and more than 29 million certified divers to date. Committed to our blue planet, PADI makes the wonder of the underwater world accessible to all, empowering people around the world to experience, explore and take meaningful action, as Ocean TorchbearersTM, to protect the world beneath the surface. For over 50 years, PADI is undeniably The Way the World Learns to Dive®, setting the standard for the highest quality dive training, underwater safety and conservation initiatives while evolving the sport of diving into a passionate lifestyle. For divers by divers, PADI is obsessed with transforming lives and, with its global foundation, PADI AWARETM, creating positive ocean change. Seek Adventure. Save the Ocean.SM  www.padi.com

About The Reef-World Foundation

The Reef-World Foundation is a registered UK charity which delivers practical solutions for marine conservation around the world. The charity promotes the wise use of natural resources – particularly coral reefs and related ecosystems – for the benefit of local communities, visitors and future generations. It is dedicated to supporting, inspiring and empowering governments, businesses, communities and individuals around the world to act in conserving and sustainably developing coastal resources.

Reef-World leads the global implementation of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative, which focuses on driving environmentally friendly scuba diving and snorkeling practices across the industry globally. As such, the charity provides low-cost and practical solutions to local and industry-wide environmental challenges associated with the marine tourism industry. It provides education and capacity-building assistance to empower environmental champions (within the diving industry, local communities, authorities and governments) to implement proven coastal resource management approaches.

For more information, visit www.reef-world.org or follow Reef-World on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.

The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.

The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”

The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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Marine Life & Conservation

Stranded dolphin rescued from muddy inlet

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At around 11:40 on Friday 16 February, a lone common dolphin was reported to British Divers Marine Life Rescue circling in the shallows in an inlet at Place, near Portscatho, in Cornwall. A couple of volunteer Marine Mammal Medics were sent down initially to monitor the animal in hope it would be able to get away by itself, and further assess the situation.

After an hour and a half or so of observation, the risk of stranding increased significantly as the tide went out as the inlet is very shallow, muddy and almost completely dries out over low tide. Therefore, a larger response team was dispatched with more equipment in preparation for a stranding. Indeed, the animal did soon strand in the mud and fell onto its side, submerging the blowhole. Luckily the team were on hand to help get it upright again quickly, then bring it ashore for a health assessment and to begin providing first aid. No obvious injuries could be found and it measured 2.03m, later confirmed as female.

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The team were soon joined by two vets, who were able to confirm the animal to be in moderate nutritional condition and appeared otherwise okay following a more detailed health check, and so was suitable for the team to attempt to refloat. However, it was not possible to refloat it safely in the inlet due to the nature of the geography, substrate and tide there it seemed the most likely reason this dolphin had stranded was due to getting disoriented in this location, and would struggle to get out again. Luckily a local resident had his boat tender moored nearby and was happy to use it a transport craft to take the dolphin out to deeper water.

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With help, the boat was slid across the mud and launched near the mouth of the inlet. A surfboard was placed on one side with a soft mat on top for the dolphin to lie comfortably on during the journey. When ready, the dolphin was carried across in a tarpaulin, transferred to a mesh stretcher and loaded on board with a team of four Medics including a vet.

The boat then carefully made its way out to the mouth of the Percuil River, facing into Carrick Roads and close to open sea, which was the most ideal site for release where the chance of returning and re-dolphinstranding was lower. The dolphin was carefully hauled overboard in the stretcher and held alongside briefly, though as she started kicking strongly almost straight away it was hard to keep hold and so she was released quickly. The boat retreated and the team observed her circling in the middle of the channel until she was lost from sight. The team returned to the inlet before darkness fell.

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The area will be monitored over the weekend for re-sightings or re-strandings, but it is hoped that she will recover successfully and continue back out to sea. In the meantime BDMLR would like to thank the volunteer team, local residents and members of the public for all their efforts and support throughout this incident.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an international marine animal rescue organisation based in the UK and is a registered charity.  The aims of the organisation are to provide a rescue service for marine wildlife, to support existing rehabilitation centres and to develop new methods of rescue, treatment, transport and care.  Website www.bdmlr.org.uk.

Photos: Dan Jarvis

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