PADI Staff Complete a Dive Against Debris Event in Koh Tao, Thailand

Written by PADI Territory Director, Tim Hunt.

Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris - PADI Staff - Drew Richardson - Koh Tao - Thailand

By now you have heard about PADI’s Four Pillars of Change, one of which includes Ocean Health. On March 27th words and ethos were put into action in Koh TaoThailand where multiple PADI dive operators joined forces to conduct a Project AWARE Dive Against Debris event on their Adopted Dive Sites. This call to action is not an irregular experience in Koh Tao but this time PADI President & CEO Drew Richardson, PADI Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Valette-Wirth, PADI Vice President Danny Dwyer, PADI Territory Director Tim Hunt, PADI Regional Manager Neil Richards and PADI Regional Training Consultant Guy Corsellis, got to experience it firsthand. 

Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris - PADI Staff - Drew Richardson - Koh Tao - Thailand

Through combined efforts, almost 100 kg/220 lb of debris was removed from the ocean floor and reported back to Project AWARE. This adds to the current tally of more than 6,000 kg/13,227 lb and 40,000 items of rubbish removed from the surrounding waters of Koh Tao since the program started in 2011. Even though the island promotes some outstanding environmentally minded campaigns such as ‘no plastic bags at 7-11’ and ‘say no plastic straws’, unfortunately the item that was most reported in the in the past 300+ Dives Against Debris Surveys from Koh Tao was plastic bottles.

PADI President & CEO Drew Richardson said “The PADI Operators and Divers on Koh Tao are exemplary in making a difference in the face of the numerous threats to our seas.  Globe-wide problems can seem overwhelming, but these divers showed that we can and do make a difference on a local level. They banded together as citizen scientists to adopt and steward the waters surrounding Koh Tao, inspiring divers and future dive leaders to care and take action. The power of one becomes a force multiplier when millions of divers across the planet are inspired to make a difference in this way. It was an honor to participate in Dive against Debris with the Koh Tao diving community and inspiring to see the young divers and instructors express true and profound care and take action for the ocean on that day.”  

Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris - PADI Staff - Drew Richardson - Koh Tao - Thailand

Some interesting facts from Project AWARE:

  • Globally more than 1 million items of debris have been removed from the ocean and reported.
  • Almost 50,000 scuba divers have participated in Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program.
  • Sadly over 5,500 entangled or dead animals were reported.
  • 64% of waste reported has been plastic.
  • 25% of data collected in Koh Tao has come from Adopted Dive Sites – have you adopted yours?

As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Project AWARE has pledged that they will have removed and report the next million items of marine debris from the ocean by 2020 #NextMillion2020. Scuba divers will inherently pick up marine debris they see (as it comes instinctively to most) however recording and reporting each collection is vital to change policies locally, nationally and globally. So in the future please make every dive, a survey dive!

Thanks again to all the dedicated PADI Dive Shops for hosting this event including; Master DiversAssava Dive ResortSairee Cottage DivingDavy Jones LockerBuddha View Dive ResortBans Diving Resort and Crystal Dive!

Our Unshakable Foundation

Happy Diver- Underwater- Scuba Diving

Amid everything the PADI® organization does in a rapidly changing world, we need to always build on the foundation for everything the PADI family does. It’s what John Cronin and Ralph Erickson laid down first when they established PADI in 1966, it’s our foundation today and it will carry us into the future. That foundation is, of course, education: diver training. What we teach and how we teach have, will and must continue to change. But, that we teach will never go away. It can’t, because it’s not what we do, but who we are.

Training is PADI’s foundation, but the heart of it is not the PADI System, eLearning, instructor cue cards and the like. These are powerful modern tools, but in 1966, several years before all of these existed, you could take PADI courses and earn PADI certifications because our training foundation was already there, entrusted where it is today – in the hands of you and your fellow PADI Instructors, Assistant Instructors and Divemasters. Without you, the PADI System – the best education system in diving by a long shot – can’t do what it does so well, much as a Steinway piano can’t sound like a Steinway without a master at its keys.

Even with all the innovations in instructional technology, such as the rise of artificial intelligence and dynamic online learning systems, human teachers still bear the weight of the best education. Innovations are important to keep PADI training relevant in today’s dynamic, personalized online world, but you still need great instructors to have great training. As American author William Arthur Ward explained it: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

That describes the PADI family – more than 130,000 people who inspire others to learn, to dive and to care. Together we motivate divers to rise to new challenges, to have underwater adventures, to heal and help others with scuba, and to protect our fragile world. PADI Course Directors shape the future by passing our collective -wisdom to a rising generation of dive leaders, who will in turn inspire divers to do things we have not even imagined yet. Everything the global PADI organization does today has its roots in training, and that training has its roots in you, me and the rest of the PADI family.

Aristotle said, around 2,300 years ago, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” and that hasn’t changed – the PADI family doesn’t “teach diving”; we educate the heart and transform lives. That’s what makes PADI’s training foundation solid.

Good luck, good teaching and good diving,

Drew Richardson Ed.D.
PADI President and CEO

This article originally appeared in the 4th Quarter edition of The Undersea Journal.

How the Closure of One Island Made a Whole Country Start Working Towards a Greener Future

By Conny Jeppson, PADI Regional Manager Philippines

In April this year, the government of the Philippines decided that they were closing one of their most visited islands, Boracay, for 6 months. The decision was made to allow time for infrastructure to improve and most importantly, to develop a new and more efficient waste water treatment.

Boracay-Beach-White Sand- Philippines
 

With more than 2 million visitors a year, many never thought the closure would actually be possible. Coincidentally, when the closure was enforced many of the world’s eyes turned to the Philippines, some in astonishment, but many looking to the Philippines to be an Eco-leader and example for the future. Even though the financial impact for most was more than could be endured, nearly all operators on the island stood behind the rehabilitation. Operators believed that the action taken would preserve the island and ensure it remained a paradise for future generations to come.

What’s even more interesting is the ripple effect that the closure has had on the community across the country and in some ways, its neighbouring countries. Suddenly and in most parts of the country, local businesses, municipalities and individuals quickly started to also improve the overall condition of their homes and businesses. A good example of this is Malapascua Island where most PADI Dive Centres and Resorts have joined forces by starting to sell refillable aluminium water bottles branded with their own logo. Not only is this a great initiative, but customers can also present their water bottle in affiliated stores and in return, can refill their water bottles for free.

Many resorts and dive centres on the island have also switched to better alternatives when it comes to the use of plastic. Plastic straws are now hard to find as reusable items and non-plastic solutions have become readily available to the community. Evolution, a PADI 5 star resort in Malapascua, have taken this initiative even further with one of their owners, Matt Reed. They have invested in a plastic recycling machine from planet positive products. Matt and the Evolution team have not only envisioned this machine to be used for their dive resort, but they also hope that it can be used for bigger parts of the island.

Malapascua Island- Phillippines- Beach- Ocean

El Nido in Palawan Island is another fantastic example of a community being in the forefront to protect the environment. The local government have banned the use of single use plastic such as plastic bags and plastic straws.  The local government have also worked hard to reclaim the local beach by introducing local laws to benefit both the local community and tourists alike.

El Nido- Palawan-Philippines-Beach

The above examples are only a handful of how the Philippines community are joining forces to improve our overall environment. There are many more PADI Dive Centres and Resorts, PADI Instructors and PADI Divemasters working hard to protect, educate and promote a more environmental way of living.

PADI Regional Managers get to experience some great environmental initiatives all around their region. If you are looking to make environmental improvements at your PADI Dive Centre or Resort, contact your PADI Regional Manager to discuss ideas, implementation and support.

A Force for Good: the Reachers and Teachers

The planet’s environmental health is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. Looking at the innovation, initiatives and social ground swell happening on all fronts, we know we can rise to the challenge through dedication, focus, tenacity and importantly, by working on hearts and minds as well as preservation and restoration. Involving kids – the coming generations who will inherit the Earth – is crucial for our future. Global conservation is making great strides, but a sustainable future demand that it becomes an ongoing mindset that expands and gets passed on.

And, it’s happening, thanks to divers who reach and teach youngsters to share a passion that goes beyond diving to protecting and restoring the underwater world. In Tahiti, the Moorea Coral Gardeners – a growing team of youngsters (and some not-so-youngsters) – freedives to replant coral to reverse damage to Moorea, Tahiti’s incredible reefs (still awesome, by the way). But, they go further, educating local youth about why all the world’s coral reefs are environmentally and economically important, and need preservation. The Gardeners started as a local youth coral restoration project and now, through social media, they touch lives everywhere with an age-spanning team of international professional athletes, actors, and media stars.

The U.S.-based Kids Sea Camp, founded by PADI Instructor Margo Peyton, involves youngsters starting at age 4 (snorkeling) at some of diving’s best and most popular south Pacific and Caribbean destinations. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at Kids Scuba Syed Abd Rahman is on a parallel mission, bringing new talent into diving’s ranks by uniting ocean and coral conservation with diver training. Both groups introduce youth to wonderous, eye-opening underwater adventures while embracing diving’s higher purpose as the underwater world’s ambassadors and protectors. Still other divers reach kids wherever they are; in Koh Tao, Guy Corsellis talks with kids at the Koh Tao International Primary School about marine life, how it behaves, why it’s important and how to be kind to the environment.

There are many examples like these, and there need to be more because through involvement, engagement and example, young divers learn that the ocean and coral reefs are not just awesome, but threatened. They learn why and, most importantly, what we can all do about it – and we’re talking about more than coral. Showing our youth the underwater world and coral reefs is the best place to start in building a global culture that lives harmoniously with the global environment. People who experience coral reefs come to care about them quickly – and because these are the world’s environmental barometers, it’s often where we see subtle changes first. People focused in preserving this fragile environment will take on the bigger environmental issues because almost all of them ultimately affect the coral reefs. In other words, to preserve and restore the coral, we really have to preserve and restore the world environment.

Let’s applaud the reachers and teachers who motivate young people to embrace the underwater world, but I challenge all of us to also be one of them. Share your diving experiences with the kids in your life – at schools, youth centers, clubs, neighborhood, home — anywhere you cross paths. Explain why the oceans, reefs and the creatures living there are special and important, and how choices like reusing and recycling make a difference. Offer to introduce them to a dive instructor if you’re not one yet, or teach them to dive if you are.

Then, watch their eyes light up when they see, hear and feel what you and I have come to love so much. It’s one of the most rewarding ways to contribute to a better future.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO