What is Project Aware?

Project aware is an organization that is dedicated to protecting and conserving our underwater resources and environments by project awarepartnering with divers and others that love the water.  Through educational programs, advocacy (see shark fining ban) and other programs Project Aware is working to protect the underwater world on a global basis.

A very lofty goal and as divers we are the natural ambassadors and eyes to help protect our aquatic world. There are many ways a diver can help protect the marine life and environment such as taking a Project Aware course, participating in conservation activities such as clean ups of your favorite dive site, data collection and coral reef monitoring. We can also help by making sure that the dive shops that we spend our travel dollars with use mooring buoys or practice “drift diving” or “live boating” and not anchors.  For example in St. Lucia they practice “live boating”, that is they do not anchor and the boat captain follows the diver’s bubbles or float and picks them up at the end of the dive.  This ensures that their anchors do not land on and destroy the fragile reef below. Most dive operators are using mooring buoys, but not all and not at all dive sites.  One time on a liveaboard on our last dive of the week, they tossed an anchor into what they assumed was a sandy bottom only to come within a foot of a small coral head that was home to a cleaning station with a dozen or so Arrow crabs and other little creatures.

As divers we can also help by educating ourselves with the Project Aware Peak Performance Buoyancy course. By streamlining our equipment so our gauges are not dangling and banging into the reef. Practice responsible behavior while diving on wrecks and taking underwater pictures by not touching the reef either with our hands or fins.

Project Aware has a nice handout that list 10 ways a diver can protect the underwater environment

  1. Dive carefully to protect the fragile aquatic ecosystem
  2. Be aware of your body and equipment placement when diving
  3. Keep your skills sharp through continuing education programs
  4. Consider how your interactions affect aquatic life
  5. Understand and respect underwater life
  6. Be an ecotourist
  7. Respect underwater cultural heritage
  8. Report environmental disturbances
  9. Be a role model for other divers and non divers when interacting with the environment
  10. Get involved in local environmental activities and issues

To learn more about Project Aware visit their web site and here is another 10 ways divers can protect the ocean

scuba joe

What are the sources of Pollution?

thWhat do you think of when you hear the word pollution? Green house gases? Oil Spills? Plastics? All of the above?  Well, you are all right.

But the question posed is actually from our IDC program last week and is found in the Project Aware specialty.  So what are the sources of pollution? Well, from page 5-1 (62 really) in our Project Aware manual ,  which is a free download ,we find that the 4 major sources of pollution are

  1. Agricultural and industrial runoff
  2. Propellants, hydrocarbons and biocides
  3. Maritime accidents or ships dumping bilge water, ballast water and garbage and pollution
  4. Industrial, municipal or agricultural waste dumping and dredge spoil.

pollutionNumbers 2 and 3 of major sources of pollution are rather easy to understand and when we think about it even the industrial sources of pollution we can see in our mind, picturing a smokestack right now.  The one that makes us think is agricultural.  But, if we think of all the chemicals and other sources such as the machinery needed to run a modern agricultural operation, we can gain a sense of understanding of the pollution sources.

It is estimated that every year dump over 20 billion tons of pollution into or water sources, with the majority winding up in the ocean either from direct runoff from coastal operations to pollution being absorb into the atmosphere and then raining on us.  And once they reach the sea, the pollution gets sent to all corners of the world.  The hydrocarbons that were discovered in the waters surround Antarctica almost assuredly didn’t come from there. After all on all of the drains in the streets of Grand Junction say that they dump to the rivers.

For more information, download the book and sign up for a Project Aware Specialty class 220px-Runoff




Project Aware in Colorado?

project awareDive against debris is one of many Project Aware campaigns; this is the project aware program that divers and dive shops across the world do cleanup projects in and around their local dive sites.  Literally tons of trash have been removed from the worlds water ways, you may have seen some of the pictures from these cleanups in your favorite dive magazine.

So how do we in landlocked Colorado help and participate in Project Aware programs?  There are so many ways from volunteering to donations to education.  You can learn more by clicking on their web page.

But first and foremost as the song goes Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Most of us will reuse a water bottle, but how many reuse and recycle the plastic cups from fast food places? Did you know they are recyclable as they are mark with the number 5 and the City of Grand Junction recycle center accepts those containers? How about your shampoo and body wash bottles? Salad dressing bottles? Even the ketchup and mustard bottles as well as yogurt and butter cups are all marked with the 1,2, or 5 that we can recycle here in Grand Junction.  As the picture above from Project Aware shows just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. By just checking the products we use that are in our refrigerators, we can reduce, reuse and recycle many items.

Want to do more? When you sign up for a PADI specialty class with us and request that your new card be a Project Aware card and make a small donation we will match that donation to Project Aware.

We can make a difference one bottle at a time

Donna Sloan-Adams

How Scuba Divers can protect the Aquatic World

As  scuba divers we marvel at the underwater beauty that we are so lucky to get to see.  And with that comes an awesome responsibility to protect the underwater environment and the rest of our incredible world.

So let us take a moment to review the 10 ways that we can protect the underwater environment.

project aware1)      Dive carefully to protect the fragile aquatic ecosystems. Corals and sponges are very delicate and some grow very slowly. Just one bad fin kick can wipeout decades of growth.

2)      Streamline your gear and take a Peak Performance Buoyancy class. Dangling gauges and bad buoyancy can cause you to crash into the reef.

3)      Keep your scuba skills sharp.  If you haven’t been diving in a while take a scuba tune up or maybe another PADI specialty course.

4)      Consider your interactions and how they may affect the aquatic world. Petting the nurse shark or turtle may stress the animal and may even harm you.

5)      Respect and understand underwater life. The coral reef is a complex and wonderful ecosystem and one little action can cause harm to the delicate creatures that reside there.  Concern enrolling in a Project Aware course of the PADI underwater naturalist course.

6)      Be an eco tourist.  Don’t collect shells and other marine life.  Take only pictures and leave only bubbles.

7)      Respect and protect the underwater culture.  Wrecks are amazing dives and they serve as home to many different creatures.  Help preserve these for the future by obeying good and safe diving practices.

8)      Report any destruction you see. As divers we are in a unique position to help monitor the health of the reef. If you notice anything unusual or strange substances report them to the proper local authority.

9)      Be a positive role model for both divers and non divers in your interactions with the environment.

10)   Get involved in local cleanup projects and other conservation projects. You can find many projects on the Project Aware web site.  Even in land locked states like Colorado we can help by doing cleanup projects at our local lakes.

You can affect your corner of the world by doing the small things to help protect and conserve our planet.