In this week’s Community Spotlight, Project AWARE catches up with Kerrie Eade, a scuba professional in the UK who's changing her community's relationship with plastic and the ocean.
Tell us about your passion for ocean conservation.
At Ocean Turtle Diving, we are committed to educating all of our customers, whether they are divers or not, about the impacts we, as humans, have on our ocean planet.
Although we primarily dive at inland dive sites, we fully understand how all bodies of water are ultimately connected and encourage our large team of instructors and Divemasters to promote the message of conservation and encourage all of our divers to take part in Dives Against Debris.
We have also banned both the use and sale of single-use plastic bottles and bags within the dive center and are advocates of recycling and reusing materials as much as possible. We endeavor to choose our suppliers based on their level of social and environmental responsibility.
Why and when did you get involved with Project AWARE?
Since taking over Ocean Turtle Diving in 2014, we first looked to stabilize and grow the business and then we began exploring how to differentiate ourselves from other local dive centers.
We found that linking up with Project AWARE as a 100% AWARE Partner was the best and most positive way to achieve this. We are always keen to encourage both our staff and customers to continue their education and spread the messages that Project AWARE promote.
What are some issues that are affecting your local dive site or favorite underwater areas?
As a dive center that is not based on the coast of the UK, we tend to complete most of our dives and training at one of the many well-equipped inland dive sites.
We found that during our dives, we were starting to see a fair amount of rubbish, whether it is from pieces of dive gear that have become damaged underwater, items from shore that have inadvertently entered the water, or pieces of the artificial attractions that have broken off.
This was the catalyst in us choosing Vobster Quay as one of our Adopt A Dive Sites and we endeavor to complete at least one debris dive here per month.
Tell us about your work!
The Dive Against Debris course has become one of our firm favorites to both teach and participate in and we actively encourage all our divers to sign up to this at the end of a teaching weekend. We also have adopted Vobster Quay and Swanage Pier where we like to take our Discover Local Diving students.
During the winter months, we hold Project AWARE days in the classroom where we taught both the Project AWARE and Coral Reef Conservation specialties back to back. We design this day to be fully interactive and the students that take part in the courses produce brilliant posters and presentations from the tasks that we set.
We are also half way through our #10Tips series on social media where we are exploring each of Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Divers and reminding our followers how they can make a positive difference to the underwater world.
What has been the highlight of your Project AWARE experience?
We really enjoy the variety and diversity of the Project AWARE programs and initiatives that we are able to offer our divers and believe that this balance allows us to spread the message to a wider audience.
In conjunction with showing the documentary A Plastic Ocean, we've been able to go into local schools and colleges and introduce large groups of young, non-divers to the work that Project AWARE is doing, particularly in regard to conservation and the protection of species.
What is the most important thing you tell others about Project AWARE?
The most important message that we are able to give is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a diver or not, everyone can help to make a change.
You can spread the message through education, awareness through fundraising or direct action during a Dive Against Debris. Everything counts towards helping to protect our ocean planet.