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Coral bleaching: The canary in the coal mine for corporate greed and environmental destruction

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coral bleaching

The Reef Check Foundation, Biosphere Expeditions’ partner for its coral reef citizen science work, has confirmed that a fourth global coral bleaching event is currently underway. This is an urgent wake-up call to the world, it being the second global mass bleaching in the past decade. It heralds a new reality of more frequent and severe bleaching events as ocean temperature records continue to be broken. Cycles of decline and recovery are normal for coral reefs, but bleaching events, which kill whole swathes of reef, are now so frequent that they are threatening coral reef survival around the planet.

The value of reefs

“A world without coral reefs will be a major problem for humanity”, explains Dr. Matthias Hammer, executive director of Biosphere Expeditions, the international citizen science NGO at the forefront of wildlife conservation, “because coral reefs have an estimated global value of €8 trillion each year, due to their contribution to the fishing and tourism industries, as well the coastal protection they provide. More than 500 million people worldwide depend on reefs for food, jobs and coastal defence.”

coral bleaching

Dr. Matthias Hammer

Fighting the decline across the world

For Biosphere Expeditions, these increasingly frequent and devastating bleaching events are nothing new, of course. The NGO, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has worked in coral reef conservation for decades, with a string of findings, achievements and successes.

In Oman, for example, Biosphere Expeditions’ citizen scientists showed that corals in Oman thrive in extreme conditions such as high salinity and temperatures, which would be considered marginal and highly challenging environments for corals in other parts of the world. Indeed, this remarkable ability may hold the key to coral survival in the face of global warming and its devastating effects on reefs across much of the planet. And further in Oman, Biosphere Expeditions’ citizen scientists gathered data for five years before fishing was banned in 2013 in two secluded bays in the coral-rich waters of the country’s Musandam peninsula in Oman by ministerial decree and the areas made MPAs. In parallel, Biosphere Expeditions ran an education and empowerment programme for Omanis resulting in historic first community-based reef surveys and the creation of Oman’s first reef protection NGO with two citizen scientist Omanis from this now playing a leading role in Oman’s reef conservation efforts.

coral bleaching

In the Maldives, the NGO has been working since 2010, surveying for eight successive years an outstanding coral reef site called ‘Rasdhoo Madivaru’ until it was finally declared an MPA (marine protected area) by the Maldivian authorities in 2019. The site is both resilient to the worst effects of coral bleaching and harbours large megafauna such as sharks, manta rays, turtles and Napoleon wrasse. Besides this, Biosphere Expeditions in the Maldives has shown remarkable reef resilience and been instrumental in the creation of a local community reef surveying programme as well as education.

coral bleaching

In Malaysia, coral reef expeditions to Tioman Island provided vital data on coral reef health and human-induced threats within the Tioman archipelago – data that were previously unavailable. This also helped build the foundation for ‘Cintai Tioman‘, a long-term programme to increase social and ecological resilience on the island.

Finally, in Honduras, Biosphere Expeditions assisted the Cayos Cochinos Marine Protected Area with managing and protecting their coral reefs.

Corporate greed & environmental destruction: reefs are the canary in the coal mine

“We must do all we can to protect the planet’s reefs”, says Hammer, “not just because they are a canary in the coal mine of how humanity treats this planet, but also because we owe it to the people who rely on reefs and to those who come after us not to wreck this planet, which sustains us and of which we only have one.” Hammer continues, “sure we can do our five Rs as individuals and people can come and help us as citizen scientists to fight the decline, which is utterly commendable, but in the end it will be about humanity reigning in corporate greed and destruction before it is too late. Because I concur that trashing the planet and hiding the money isn’t a perversion of capitalism, it is capitalism. This system is simply no longer fit for purpose, indeed it is at the root of the vast majority of environmental problems we are facing now.”

coral bleaching

Biosphere Expeditions is a wildlife conservation non-profit first and foremost, driven by science and citizen scientist. Our planet is in crisis, with nature under attack like never before. We believe everyone has the power to change this. We are mindful of nature and empower people through citizen science and hands-on wildlife conservation. We are a non-profit, visionary, award-winning and ethical conservation organisation. We are a member of the IUCN, the UN’s Environment Programme and the European Citizen Science Association. Working hand-in-hand with local biologists and communities since 1999, we champion change and protect nature. And we succeed – the creation of protected areas on four continents is just one example of our many achievements.

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PADI Recognises EMEA Members with New Professional Development Excellence Award

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PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) has recently launched their new Professional Development Excellence Award in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), celebrating PADI Five Star Instructor Development Centers (IDC)  that are championing creating more PADI Professionals, at all levels, during the previous calendar year.

“While becoming a PADI Five Star IDC Center is a prized accreditation amongst members, this exclusive rating comes with the responsibility of training the next generation of divers to become PADI Instructors,” explains Dave Murray, Managing Director for PADI EMEA.

“PADI’s commitment to a continuing education philosophy encourages divers to realise their dreams of a career as a PADI Pro, teaching others to do what they love – to scuba dive. This new recognition award distinguishes productive PADI Five Star IDC stores for the time and effort they dedicate to marketing and conducting the professional training needed to grow the scuba diving industry.”

PADI’s EMEA Professional Development Excellence Award recognises members for reaching specific milestones based on the number of PADI Pro certifications they issue annually. It also provides an extra layer of credentials in their “Pro Development Status” to potential Divemaster and IDC candidates, along with any other prospective Pro-level customers and prospective employees.

The first awards were distributed earlier this year, with 12 PADI Five Star IDC Centers receiving the Platinum Award. This means that they have issued a minimum of 100 PADI Professional certifications from Divemaster to IDC Staff Instructor, which include 30 Core Professional certifications and 70 Continuing Education Instructor level certifications.

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The 2025 PADI EMEA Professional Development Excellence Award is already underway and renewed PADI EMEA Five Star IDC Dive Centers and Resorts are automatically eligible. Stores that reach the recognition levels during 2024 will receive their award in the first quarter of 2025.

For more information about the award and to see the full list of award recipients visit here.

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 30 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

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Blogs

Two great programs to thrill and excite from RAID

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RAID’s Performance Diver program is part of the training agency’s unique ‘tune-up’ options for divers at all levels, from basic to technical. Its appeal to newer divers who did not get all they wanted from their open water course (perhaps with a non-RAID dive centre) has always been strong. But it’s a winning option for someone who has been inactive for a while as well.

The skills taught in this course have been designed by some of the most respected dive professionals in the industry. They have condensed years of in-water experience into a great program that’s fuelled by great ideas and solid knowledge. Something useful in all sorts of conditions and all sorts of gear configurations. In short, a range of skills you will use on every dive: buoyancy, trim, situational awareness, gear selection and management, contingency planning… having fun and staying safe.

You can find out more about RAID’s Performance Diver program here.

And with the agency’s renewed focus in 2024 on breath-hold programs, July is a good time to read about the benefits of RAID’s range of Freediving courses.

Freediving is such an exhilarating and beautiful sport that allows you to connect with the underwater world in a unique way.

The thrill of diving deep down, holding your breath, and exploring the depths with just a single breath is truly an unforgettable experience.

It requires focus, control, and a deep respect for the ocean. The sense of freedom and tranquility you can find while freediving is unlike any other.

Have you ever tried freediving or are you interested in learning more about it? You do not have to be a scuba diver to start… not at all!

And if you are already a diver, RAID can help you discover a whole new way to look at a familiar world.

You can find out more about RAID’s Freediving courses here.

To find out more about RAID and the agency’s diver training programs, visit diveraid.com.

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