It all started when Jonah Skoles, a PADI Instructor from PADI 5 Star IDC Center Temple Adventures Pondicherry and long term resident of this area. He attended a marine resource management presentation from PADI Platinum Course Director Mark Soworka. Jonah wanted to find a way to pass on some of this knowledge and awareness to the local children, Mark, and PADI Regional Manager Andy Auer helped Jonah to get some promotional materials for an Project Aware presentation about the ocean at a Local School called “The Learning Community“. After the presentation, nine children enthusiastically expressed their interest to have a class on Marine Biology.
it all started with a presentation from the Course Director
Ofa Skoles (An ocean lover and teacher),with the help of Erin( a biologist and ocean enthusiast) and Jonah, took it upon themselves to create a marine biology class. It was based around many of the activities found in the Project A.W.A.R.E. while giving the children the room to direct the class based on their evolving interests as well as including a research project on an sea animal of their choice.
Cleaning a beach in India can be a very rewarding and challenging activity
Their first class was held at Eternity Beach, A beautiful Forest right on the sout-east coast line of India, to collect garbage and decide on a sea animal for their final research project. Cleaning a beach in India can be a very rewarding and challenging activity due to the sheer amount of garbage present. The students felt they were becoming part of a solution in regards to cleaning up the Beach and the Ocean while realizing how many things are hurting our beautiful Environment. While cleaning the beach, the group stumbled upon a dead turtle coming to nest and mostly likely killed by fishing nets. The class promptly decided to learn more about the dangers of over fishing, debris, and find out more about the degradation of the ocean. Subsequent classes included more seminars from Jonah, whom present some underwater videos from Local dive sites showing some marine animals, and the set up of an artificial reef off the Coast of Pondicherry by Temple Adventures, and the freeing of a turtle from a tangle of nets.
the students learned how to snorkel order to collect useful data
The” marine biology students” went on a short trip to study a part of the ocean in India where the reef is accessible by snorkeling( Rameshwaram). The students learned how to snorkel, how to build and use a field sampling grid, got first hand knowledge of many sea creatures, and furthered their love for the ocean. The exciting part was that the students could share their knowledge with the others.
Graduation with a Presentation of the final projects to parents, teachers and friends
The class “graduated” with a presentation of their final projects to parents, teachers, and friends of the school. The presentation also included various posters including one about the dangers of over-fishing and poor fishing practices. Their final project included a section on the conservation status of their animal. This project helped the students get a better understanding of the animals in the ocean and why its important to protect their habitats and thus make choices that have a less impact on the ocean. For their final class, the students spent a morning at Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, where they got a tour of the facility as well as what is required during an open water course, All the kids expressed great interest in doing their PADI Open Water Diver Course!
All in all, it was an amazing journey from an educational packet graciously sent by PADI and an afternoon seminar by a talented dive Instructor from Temple Adventures.