As the 46-foot Newton dive boat sailed across soft ripples on a warm September morning, the onboard energy was palpable. Nearly 40 divers, grinning from ear to ear, slipped on their fins as they prepared to dive into the cobalt depths. It was time to Dive Against Debris.
The group had gathered from around the country—25 PADI Club members and nearly a dozen dive pros from the Islamorada Dive Center and Florida Keys Dive Center—to spend a week splashing in the sun of the Florida Keys for the inaugural PADI Club trip. This dive was their opportunity to leave the waters better than they found them.
“Our Club members understand they must protect and preserve their favorite dive sites, or they won’t be around for future generations,” said Zack Pavkov, PADI Club’s manager. “Anyone can pass their passion on to the next generation, but divers are exceptionally well suited to take action doing the activities they love!”
PADI AWARE has empowered local divers to tackle marine debris for 30 years, and since 2011 has run the world’s largest underwater marine debris survey network. Our Dive Against Debris database has recorded over 2,000,000 pieces of marine debris removed globally. Each piece tells a story—and that knowledge is power. When diver’s underwater findings are recorded, we can see real trends that help us identify on-the-ground solutions to drive real impact in our communities around the world.
As PADI AWARE’s Community and Campaigns Officer, I’ve seen time and time again that this type of dive is no chore. Divers are always jazzed to give back to the big blue that gives so much to us. They cannot wait to share what they found with their buddies.
“Dive against debris was an epic experience!” said Stephen Atkins, a PADI Club diver who helped the group remove 100 pounds of debris from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that day. “Working with my team to bring up plastic, metal and rope that had woven itself into the ocean floor’s landscape could not have been more rewarding!”
In order to properly save the ocean, we need all community members working together. Major events like this—and the California cleanup that extracted nearly 1.7 tons of marine debris—make a major dent but they do take a lot of planning. This dive, for example, required permits from the sanctuary and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held by Islamorada Dive Center. The good news is cleanups don’t have to be a huge undertaking. Any dive can be a survey dive. Removing a single can or bag makes a difference.
“By participating in Dive Against Debris clean-up dives, divers of all kinds are able to become stewards of the marine environment and lead a cause for change in the way that we look at recreational diving,” said PADI Instructor Seanna Knight, one of the Conservation Coordinators at Islamorada Dive Center. “Dive Against Debris fosters diving for a greater purpose.”
Are you ready to step up, help save the ocean, and #LiveUnfiltered at the same time? Sign up for a PADI Open Water Diver course now.