By Frederick “Rick” Allen
If you’re a scuba diver, chances are you already care about protecting the ocean. Things like cutting back on single-use plastics and minimizing your carbon footprint are already on your do-gooder to-do list. That’s great for when you’re on land, but did you know it’s possible to make a difference and dive at the same time? Here are six ways you can enjoy scuba diving while giving back to the dive community.
- Sign up to monitor or rebuild reefs
Citizen science is gaining momentum. That’s great for the environment. Many organizations rely on volunteers to either collect data or help with restoration efforts.
Groups like the Reef Check Foundation monitor the health of reefs throughout the world. They report their findings to local governments to assist with resource management decisions. For dive volunteers, this means learning to identify certain species while taking notes underwater.
There are also many organizations that take a direct part in restoring damaged habitats. Some of these groups do so by building artificial reefs. Others are involved with coral outplanting. They attach cultivated, healthy corals to reefs that may have suffered from bleaching events or disease.
Whether you prefer gathering data or making things with your hands, these two volunteer options are a great way to get a crash course in marine ecology while protecting underwater habitats.
- Become a Scubility Diver Buddy to divers with disabilities
Adaptive scuba diving is becoming more common while word spreads that nearly anyone can dive. Divers with a range of disabilities are discovering the joys of scuba diving. By taking a few extra steps into consideration, Scubility Dive Buddies can share their passion for the underwater world while enriching the lives of others. Get in touch with your local SDI dive shop and ask if they offer any Scubility programs.
- Volunteer at your local aquarium
Most people don’t realize this, but many aquariums throughout the world have a dedicated volunteer team. The Kelp Forest Exhibit at the California Science Center is one example. Members perform tasks like cleaning the exhibits, feeding animals and even giving public presentations while underwater.
Exhibit diving is an incredible way to learn more about sea life while working alongside aquarists and biologists. Your interactions with the public can also serve as inspiration for others to start scuba diving. It may even encourage them to pursue a degree in marine science.
If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area and are interested in becoming an exhibit diver, take a look at the volunteer opportunities at the California Science Center here.
- Carry a small haul bag while diving
In hiking, there is a common practice to leave trails cleaner than you found them. The same principle can apply to diving. Litter has impacted even the most remote dive sites. An easy way to combat this issue is to store a small mesh bag in your BC pocket. Next time the ever-present plastic bottle floats by on your dive, you can conveniently remove it from the water and recycle it afterward.
- Visiting local shops on your next dive trip
This one has more to do with land-based actions, but it still involves a fair amount of diving.
One of the best things about dive travel is getting to experience other cultures. Ask local dive center employees about their favorite things to do around town. You’ll get the inside scoop on authentic places to eat. You may even hear about things to do that aren’t listed in the travel brochure.
Many of the world’s top dive destinations are in areas where the economy has a high dependency on tourism. Go ahead and splurge a little. The local businesses you spend your money at will greatly appreciate it.
- Become an SDI Instructor and introduce others to scuba diving
Remember how exciting your Open Water course was? Think of the joy it brought you to breathe underwater for the first time and all of the wonderful things you’ve experienced since then. Diving isn’t just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. It changes how we see the world and opens the door to new frontiers. What if you could be the one to give that gift to somebody?
Throughout your instructor training, you’ll also hone your own skills and become a better, more dependable diver in the process. What are you waiting for? Visit your local dive center today and talk with someone about the path to becoming an SDI Open Water Scuba Instructor.
To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.