Blog by: Caitlin McCall, Blue Parks Ambassador
Blue Parks Ambassadors are ocean champions across the world and diverse spheres who care deeply about safeguarding life in the sea. They help us build support for Blue Parks by communicating the value of these special places for revitalizing the health of the ocean. Here, ambassador Caitlin McCall shares her interest in bridging SCUBA culture and conservation education.
Aside from SCUBA diving and marine conservation both being hobbies and careers of the adventurous, there are many overlaps between these two subjects. Obviously, they both concern the ocean, but there is a deeper connection between the two than meets the eye.
SCUBA Culture and Conservation
Unfortunately, recreational SCUBA culture hasn’t placed conservation in the forefront in the past; however, in recent years, training agencies, such as PADI, have incorporated conservation content and certifications in their messaging and business plans.
Having travelled and dived with many shops around the world, I have noticed a lack of understanding with regards to these fragile ecosystems from other dive professionals, as well as shops and recreational SCUBA divers in general. Because of this, I have founded a business, which specializes primarily in digital education of marine conservation, called Eco-Conscious Diver. Bringing conservation into the conversation in the diving industry is a natural crossover and supporting partnership.
Divers Are Ideal Ocean Advocates
You see, divers are ideal ocean advocates, because they’re familiar with the marine environment, and typically already love and want to help protect it. Lack of knowledge is the main barrier to entry when it comes to marine conservation. That’s where Eco-Conscious Diver comes in with a more conservation-minded approach to SCUBA.
Marine Science and Diving
Beyond recreational SCUBA diving, there are now innovative ways that marine science is being combined with the sport, most notably, Scientific Diving. This is the process of gathering data underwater while on SCUBA. Usually, it involves a transect line or specific area, in which species are counted or change over time is recorded. There are several organizations that grant Scientific Diving certifications, without a full marine science degree! This is very exciting for those who want to be involved in this field but may not excel in traditional science and math classes.
The Future of SCUBA
Ideally, the future of SCUBA diving will seamlessly incorporate conservation into all aspects of the sport, from dive briefings to gear production, to eco-tours. A new generation of SCUBA divers is demanding this shift in the industry, and I’m very excited to see the future of the sport develop to this end.
For lack of proper training, a lot of the damage done worldwide to corals can be attributed to SCUBA divers. Here are a few tips that can ensure the curtailing of damage to corals while scuba diving: ⠀
1. Prevent contact with coral. It is human nature to want to reach out and touch things, but please don’t touch the corals! Corals are made up of soft fragile membranes, which can cause them to break, or lose their protective mucus.
2. Don’t wear gloves on reef dives! I can’t count the number of people I’ve seen wearing gloves on a simple reef dive. Why the need for gloves if you won’t be touching anything, right?
3. BUOYANCY! This can’t be stressed enough. Of course, being neutrally buoyant will help you to glide over reefs and ensure you don’t disturb and can navigate around the marine environment. Have you gone diving just to practice your buoyancy lately? This is a skill that comes with practice and experience. Keep working at it.
Interested in learning more about marine conservation?
Eco-Conscious Diver offers self-paced online courses, which include conservation certifications! The best part? 20% of your purchase will go to Marine Conservation Institute!
Not a scuba diver? No problem! Eco-Conscious Diver’s flagship course ‘A Complete Introduction To Marine Conservation™’ was created for divers and non-divers alike!
About the Author:
Caitlin McCall is a passionate PADI Scuba Instructor, Scientific Diver, and Science Communications Specialist. She is also the Founder of Eco-Conscious Diver, an educational platform which specializes in marine conservation. She is a Blue Parks Ambassador for Marine Conservation Institute, educating and advocating for fully and highly protected ocean places where she teaches and dives. Caitlin is a former resident of Key West, Florida, at the heart of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and site of our current campaign to improve the management plan for the sanctuary—sign the petition here!