Are you a scuba diver looking for ways to make a positive impact on our oceans? Earth Day is the perfect time to get involved in community science projects and volunteer opportunities that can help protect and conserve our marine environment. Here are several ways you can make a difference:
Coral Reef Monitoring & Restoration
Organizations like the Coral Restoration Foundation and the Reef Renewal Foundation offer volunteer opportunities for scuba divers to help monitor and restore coral reefs. Volunteers can participate in activities such as coral fragment collection, cleaning and preparing the fragments for restoration, and outplanting them back onto the reef.
Here are a few locations where you can volunteer:
- Coral Restoration Foundation - Florida Keys
- Reef Renewal Foundation - Florida Keys
- Reef Renewal Foundation - Bonaire
- Reef Renewal Foundation - Cayman Islands
- Reef Renewal Foundation - Curacao
- Reef Renewal Foundation - St Vincent & the Grenadines
- Cozumel Coral Reef Restoration - Cozumel
- Coral Restoration Project - Roatan
- Cane Bay Dive Shop - St Croix
- Know of more? Please share them with us!
Dive Against Debris
Many organizations and dive clubs organize underwater cleanups to remove trash and debris from the ocean floor. PADI AWARE Foundation organizes the Dive Against Debris program, which encourages scuba divers to collect data on the types and amounts of debris they encounter during their dives. This data is then used to raise awareness about the problem of marine debris and to advocate for solutions.
Marine Life Surveys
Organizations like Reef Check and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) train volunteers to conduct surveys of the marine life and habitat in a particular area. These surveys provide valuable data that can be used to assess the health of the marine ecosystem and identify areas that need protection.
Ready to get started? Join us for a Fish ID class, the first step to learning how to conduct fish surveys for REEF!
Citizen Science Projects
Scuba divers can also participate in citizen science projects to help gather data about marine species and populations.
- Great Shark Snapshot - organized by the Shark Trust as a community science project that encourages divers to record shark, ray, and skate sightings around the world.
- REEF’s Great Annual Fish Count - an opportunity for divers to contribute data on fish populations during the month of July.
- iSeahorse - for seahorse observations.
- Spot A Shark USA - for sand tiger sharks photos.
- Sharkbook: Wildbook for Sharks - upload your shark photos.
- Manta Trust: ID The Manta - submit your manta ray images.
- MantaMatcher: Wildbook for Mantas and Other Rays - upload your photos of mantas and other rays.
- AGRRA Diadema Response Network - report your Caribbean sea urchin sightings.
- AGRRA Coral Disease Outbreak - report signs of bleaching and Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
Education and Outreach
You can also volunteer your time to educate others about the importance of ocean conservation. You can give presentations at schools or community events, participate in beach cleanups, or even organize your own events to raise awareness.
Expand your own knowledge with a class, whether in person (Project AWARE Specialist, PADI Coral Reef Conservation and PADI Underwater Naturalist to name a few) or with an online course like Cities Under the Sea: An Introduction to Coral Reef Ecology (FREE!).
Are you a dive pro?
For more advanced divers, Green Fins provides training on responsible diving practices to reduce your impact on the environment. Additionally, the website of the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) offers training materials and opportunities to get involved in monitoring and restoration efforts, including sea urchin monitoring and stony coral tissue loss disease research.
By practicing responsible diving, supporting sustainable tourism, reducing their carbon footprint, and volunteering their time, we as scuba divers can make a tangible and positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our oceans. Don't miss out on these deep sea adventures to make a difference on Earth Day and beyond!