‘Her Deepness’ Dr Sylvia Earle, president and chairman of Mission Blue, and PADI Worldwide president and CEO Dr Drew Richardson discussed the critical role divers play in ocean conservation during a presentation at DEMA 2017 in Florida on Friday.
“Change comes when people care, and there are no better messengers to communicate the beauty and fragility of the ocean than divers, who have a direct, emotional connection to the ocean,” commented Earle, who together with Richardson was encouraging the worldwide dive community to be ‘a force for good’.
Still a committed, dedicated diver despite her advancing years, Earle recalled: “Breathing underwater is such a joy. I first experienced it back in the 1950s, long before most of you were born, and as long as I breathe, I expect to be taking the plunge – though I might have to do it from inside a submarine at some point!”
Throughout its history, PADI has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to environmental conservation through its course offerings, and alignment with organisations such as the Project AWARE Foundation, to protect and preserve the planet – and now it is throwing its weight behind Mission Blue.
Led by legendary oceanographer Dr Earle, Mission Blue is dedicated to uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas named Hope Spots. Under her leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevates Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Google Earth. Currently, the Mission Blue alliance includes more than 180 respected ocean conservation groups and like-minded organisations, from large multi-national companies to individual scientific teams doing important research, and since June 2017, this includes PADI.
The focus of this powerhouse partnership is to further ignite support for Hope Spot marine protected areas, and together, PADI and Mission Blue aim to empower all divers to make a tangible impact during and after their dives by collecting and broadcasting their observations, scientific and otherwise, as well as connect them to local conservation efforts and best practices.
“We don’t get to live in an ideal world, we live in this one,” said Richardson. “Training one million new divers each year across the planet, PADI has the reach and influence to mobilise divers to be citizen activists. The diving community can be a powerful change agent that can engage in strategic alliances, have a strong voice and get involved in real solutions to mitigate the problems that threaten our ocean planet.”
Photographs by Karl Shreeves, PADI Education and Content Development Executive/PADI