How to create ocean awareness and seize the passion of travelers
Cleaner, Healthier Initiatives
|“Project AWARE connects the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation”|
If you are anything like me, millenial or otherwise, you’d heard about PADI before you actually tried scuba diving for the first time. Maybe you even held some degree of concern about the state of ocean affairs and the devastating impact of overfishing, acidification and coral bleaching?
PADI began to channel these concerns more than 30 years ago and connected with the A.W.A.R.E non-profit organisation (Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility and Education) that championed ‘a Return to a Clean, Healthy Ocean’.
I first knew about Project AWARE through my open water instructor in Thailand, who was, and still is, part of a local movement to clean all the beaches around the island of Koh Tao regularly; ultimately hoping to minimize the garbage that ends up in the mouths of wildlife at the barrier reef that surrounds the island. When I completed my training I was so in awe of the sea and the humbling experience it brought me that I felt I was in debt to the ocean. So I sent a little donation in the form of a special Project AWARE certification card and picked up every piece of trash I saw from then on – just in case it found its way into the water.
Like myself, many other travellers I met in South East Asia wanted to do more to increase conservation efforts and give back to the ecosystem that brings us so much enjoyment. As divers working for grassroots organisations we were encouraged by Project AWARE to organize and share our ideas and initiatives.
Conservation Meets Adventure
Today anyone, both diver and non-diver, can be part of these efforts to support ocean protection policies, reef clean-up programs and community empowerment initiatives aimed at improving the health of the ocean from the local level.
First born as a foundation under PADI’s wings, it has developed over the years into a fully independent nonprofit organization with headquarters in the US, the UK and Australia.
After almost 10 years as a PADI Instructor, Project AWARE has followed me to the mexican Pacific Ocean in Baja California where Cabo Private Guide embraces various conservation programs. These include regular beach cleans, online marine life awareness courses and volunteering for coral restoration projects.
Become AWARE-Certified with us
As one of the biggest “industry-led” conservation nonprofit organizations in the world, Project Aware (together with PADI) offer some amazing programs that anyone can take online with the PADI Professionals of Cabo Private Guide. All courses are available in English and Spanish.
- Project AWARE: A dry course available to everyone. You will be presented relevant information to encourage taking direct action and responsibility for the health of the ocean. Participants need only have an interest in the aquatic environment to enroll. No minimum age or experience required.
- Coral Reef Conservation: How do coral reefs function? What is their crucial importance to Planet Earth? Why are many reefs threatened? What you can do to help stop further decline? You will discuss these issues in depth. You will gain insight as to how you can explore the reef in a safe, conscious and responsible way. All ages, divers or non divers can take it!
- AWARE Shark Conservation: Learn about sharks and the threats facing the whole species. Mainly; overfishing, bycatch and finning. Learn how to do your part for the sake of the world’s ocean ecosystems and help sharks secure a brighter future. Prerequisites: 12yrs Old/ Junior OW certified.
* You must complete 2 open water certification dives
- Fish I.D : Let your CPG Instructor guide you through the fish families you encounter during your dives so you will better identify the species. Apply counting techniques to measure reef fish numbers. Prerequisites: Junior OW certified
*you must complete 2 open water certification dives
- Dive Against Debris: Use the Conservation Tool Kit on the Project Aware website to download your Survey ToolKit. It includes how to record the types of debris you find that will be added to a database. This data helps the organisation trace the journey of trash so that prevention measures can be made. Diver surveys are integral to this research. Prerequisites: Minimum Junior Open Water .
* You must complete 1 open water certification dive
Responsible Choices for ‘Aware’ Travelling
Picking a responsible tour operator is just as important as learning about healthy ocean initiatives. Best Practice operators are ones that promote environmental awareness, create profitability and teach guests about the threats that face local marine ecosystems. They encourage sound interaction between visitor and the local community while making sure everyone has a positive impact on wildlife and those that live at the travel destination.
We focus on teaching and enforcing the best dive and snorkeling practices to minimize the impact on the natural areas that we frequent (National Parks, UNESCO sites, Marine Parks).
By dedicating a private guide to all our groups we make sure that you are well taken care of, making you feel safe every “fin stroke” of the way, as well as ensuring no damage to the reef or animals we encounter. We are committed to encouraging responsible diving practices and skills and making the most of every minute; either in the classroom, the pool or the ocean.
Author – Adrian Belinchon