4 Tips for Hosting AWARE Week Activities

Written by Tara Bradley

In celebration of AWARE Week, a co-branded PADI® and Project AWARE® initiative aimed at empowering more divers to look after the underwater world, PADI dive operators and shops around the world will join together in a global movement for ocean protection by running conservation-minded events and activities from 15-23 September.

Whether it’s becoming a debris activist, saying no to single-use plastics or making responsible seafood choices, no action is too small to protect and preserve our ocean planet. AWARE Week provides you with the tools and inspiration to encourage positive actions for the health of fragile underwater environments, fins on and fins off.

Interested in planning an AWARE Week event in your area? Here are some ways to get ready and bring together your student divers, friends and family to act for change in your local community.

  1. Get ready to teach Project AWARE specialty courses: If you’re not a Dive Against Debris® or AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Specialty Instructor, apply for your rating today. One hundred percent (that’s right, 100%!) of your application fee is donated to Project AWARE. Not a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor yet? No worries, PADI Divemasters can apply to teach the newly revised Project AWARE Specialty course after taking a Project AWARE Specialty Instructor Training course from a PADI Course Director.
  2. Mark your calendar and start promoting your AWARE Week activities:
    Download AWARE Week social banners to spread the word. Create a Facebook event and use the #AWAREWeek hashtag on Instagram and Twitter to encourage participation and join the online conversation.
  3. Make your dives count and help clean the ocean: If you want to make your dives count for ocean protection during AWARE Week, conduct Dive Against Debris surveys. Download your Dive Against Debris survey toolkit, which includes the must-have materials you need to successfully plan and conduct a survey dive including tips to choose your survey site.
  4. Display the AWARE Week video in your local shop and gather interest for the Project AWARE specialty courses: Dive Against Debris Specialty, AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Specialty, and the newly revised Project AWARE Specialty. Ask people visiting your dive shop to leave their contact details if they’re interested in taking part in AWARE Week. Closer to the date, send them an invitation to sign up for a Project AWARE specialty course during AWARE Week or to any other event you may organize, a club night, a fundraising challenge – you decide.

Whatever you do during AWARE Week, make it fun and make it count for ocean conservation. If your students complete a course during AWARE Week, make sure they receive the PADI limited edition card supporting Project AWARE’s conservation work, and use this opportunity to celebrate the beauty and wonders of the ocean!

From kids to seniors, non-divers to pros, we can all make a difference in our global community. Join the AWARE Week celebrations!

For more info or to download the AWARE Week Toolkit for help hosting an event in your area, visit the newly launched AWARE Week website.

Save the Dates: AWARE Week is Coming 15-23 September

Written by Lori Bachelor-Smith

From 15-23 September 2018, the PADI® family will join forces with Project AWARE® to celebrate the environment and education. The week’s focus is on teaching the three AWARE specialty courses – Project AWARE, AWARE Shark Conservation Diver and Dive Against Debris® – and inspiring divers to act on what they learn to protect the aquatic environment. Based on the successful 2017 AWARE Week project in the United Kingdom, this year’s AWARE Week has gone global.

WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE PART

Perfect Timing – As the dive season slows in northern climates and ramps up in the southern latitudes, divers are ready for reasons to get  in the water. The bonus is they get to learn more about things that matter to them and are able to contribute by diving against debris or observing sharks. It also helps them step up the continuing education ladder. Participating in AWARE Week allows you to really connect with customers while boosting your September certifications.

Build Advocates – The more divers know about the state of the ocean and the threats to aquatic resources, the more likely they’ll be to make better personal environmental choices and become advocates for change. Education is the key to supporting PADI’s Ocean Health and Marine Life Protection Pillars and furthering Project AWARE’s efforts. Training Dive Against Debris divers not only expands your participant list for your monthly Dive Against Debris surveys, but it also creates more people who will say no to single-use plastics. Showing divers the continued pressure being put on the shark populations will create more people to defend sharks on both the local and global level.

Personal Improvement – If you already can offer all of the AWARE specialties, then teaching them during AWARE Week will help you build certifications toward your next professional level. If you aren’t authorized to teach Dive Against Debris or AWARE Shark Conservation Diver yet, then this is a great time for you to add to your professional qualifications. Get the training you need and/or send in your application soon so that you’re ready to teach in September. Also note that your instructor application fee is donated to Project AWARE.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

Fill the Week – Connect courses with events to fill the week. Offering a big Dive Against Debris survey at your local dive site is obvious, but also plan to offer other activities. Invite local environmental experts to speak to your divers about sharks, rays or any other endangered or threatened species in your area. Show environmental videos that explain the extent of plastic pollution or highlight how to make better choices to protect the environment. Try to focus on what’s occurring locally because that’s where your divers can make the biggest change.

Download Tools – Go to projectaware.org to get all the tools you need to teach AWARE Specialties along with supporting promotional graphics from the AWARE Week host page.

One more important thing: The Project AWARE Specialty is being updated to guide divers through the “10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet,” including discussions about how to take personal action. Watch for announcements about the release of the new instructor guide as you prepare for AWARE Week.

For more information, visit the AWARE Week host page for PADI Members. 

7 Ways to Support Sharks During Shark Week

Whether you love or hate Shark Week, there’s no denying its influence. Now in its 30th year, the annual hyperbole bonanza draws millions of viewers and has been likened to the Super Bowl.

For most Millennials and all of Gen Z, everything they know about sharks may have come from Shark Week. The author of a recent article in Fortune writes, “I once asked a class of 125 undergraduates how many had watched [Shark Week], and just about every hand went up. I then asked how many had ever actually seen sharks in the wild. Just a few hands were raised. For my students—and most Americans—this means that the overwhelming majority of our exposure to sharks is through Shark Week.”

Join PADI®, Project AWARE® and thousands of shark fans around the world by spreading a positive message about our finned friends during Shark Week 2018. Here are a few ways to show your support and chum for new customers:

  • Shout Out for Sharks

Post shark-positive articles on social media throughout Shark Week and encourage your followers to show their support for sharks by re-sharing to their social channels. Here are a few of our favorites:

10 Surprising Facts About Sharks
18 Things More Dangerous Than Sharks

Cristina Zenato – Shark Whisperer
Shark Attack Survivor and Shark Advocate Mike Coots

7 Species of Sharks You Should Know
Why Does Shark Finning Happen?

Awesomely Interesting Shark Facts

Don’t forget to use #SharkWeek in your Twitter and Instagram posts.

  • Petition for Shark Protection

Sign and share the #DiversforMakos petition to help end uncontrolled mako shark fishing in the Atlantic. Dive centers with customers in the United States can also promote the petition to ban the sale of shark fins in the U.S.

  • Offer Shark Certification Cards
    Issue a limited-edition silky shark certification card to students who earn a certification during Shark Week. When processing the certification in the Online Processing Center, choose the Project AWARE card option. If you are not a 100% AWARE partner, a donation of $10 per student is required. Proceeds benefit the shark conservation efforts of Project AWARE.

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  • Host a Scuba Diving with Sharks Travel Night
    Shark Week is the perfect opportunity to promote shark diving experiences locally, or on your next dive trip. Host a Shark Week watch party preceded by a shark diving presentation, or schedule a shark diving info night and promote it during Shark Week.If you have shark diving in your area, check out Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism: A Guide to Best Practice from Project AWARE. If you have an active travel program, reference the guide to ensure you’re working with a responsible operator.

 

  • Promote the Shark Conservation Diver Specialty and Project AWARE

Any certified diver age 12 or older can enroll in the  AWARE – Shark Conservation Diver Specialty, and the certification counts towards the PADI Master Scuba Diver® Rating.If you’d like to offer something for nondivers, host a Project AWARE fundraising event. The fundraiser can be an athletic event where participants raise money (a “Finathon”), or it could be a donation challenge.

Set a goal and choose a fun incentive if the goal is met. The reward could be a stunt such as a staff member agreeing to wear a shark costume and hand out shark candy in a public place, or it could be a picnic or happy hour for fundraising participants.

  • Post/Host Shark Trivia
    Put together a list of 8-20 surprising shark facts. Use them as a daily trivia question to draw engagement on social media, or host a shark trivia night at a local pub or via Facebook live. Here are some question ideas to get you started:What is the largest shark on the planet?

True or false, “The Cookiecutter Shark”is real

How big is an average Megalodon shark tooth?

Check out the articles below for more fun shark facts:
Megalodon Shark Facts

7 Species of Sharks You Should Know
10 Surprising Facts About Sharks

Awesomely Interesting Shark Facts

  • Reward Customers Who Speak Up for Sharks

Issue a Shark Week challenge to customers and social media followers to share shark facts, sign up for a class or event, and donate to Project AWARE. Incentivize participation by giving away novelty items such as shark bite socks or a shark coffee mug to people who do all three. Or, buy random inexpensive items to create a sharky grab bag and invite shark challenge participants to come by the store and draw for a random prize.

Shark Week offers an unprecedented opportunity for shark lovers to cut through the hype and speak up for shark protection. Mark your calendar for Sunday, 22 July and spread the good word about sharks while promoting your business at the same time.

PADI at the 2017 DEMA Show

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Kicking off with the PADI® Social on Halloween night, assembled PADI Members buzzed about PADI’s outlook for 2018 and beyond. PADI President and CEO Drew Richardson gave a nod to 2016’s 50th anniversary celebrations and reinforced PADI’s mission statement to be best in and for the world. Richardson stressed the importance of PADI’s unique place in the world and the commitment to ensure the symbolic diver’s torch is passed on to the next generations of ocean ambassadors.

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The PADI booth was as busy as ever and early one morning, Richardson and legendary oceanographer and President/Chairman of Mission Blue, Dr. Sylvia Earle, hosted a discussion about ocean conservation and the role divers play. PADI and Mission Blue formalized a partnership in 2017 to ignite support for marine areas in a network of locations targeted for enhanced protection.

PADI Miniseminars were a huge hit and well attended. Popular miniseminars included: Leveraging My PADI Club™ to Engage and Grow Your Business, Mastering PADI’s Paperless Registration Process, Risk Management – Programs, Preparation and Protection, and Project AWARE’s Shark and Ray Tourism Workshop.

AWARE team at DEMA

Make plans to attend the 2018 DEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA from 14-17 November.

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A New Wave of Ocean Protection

Support Project AWARE®’s next wave of ocean protection with your PADI® Member Renewal

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With 25 years of ocean conservation successes fueled by an incredible network of supporters, governments, businesses, NGOs and conservation partners, Project AWARE has much to celebrate with PADI Members.

To highlight this incredible milestone and join in the celebrations, PADI is launching a special limited edition Project AWARE card – The 25 Years of Partnership for Ocean Protection limited edition card is available to PADI Pros from October 2017 and will be available to student divers throughout 2018 when it launches in January.

00606_AWARE_C_CardFINAL-300x188Two Ways to Support Project AWARE’s Next Wave of Ocean Conservation

  • Choose the new 25 Years of Partnership for Ocean Protection limited edition card as your PADI Membership card
  • Donate to Project AWARE with your PADI Member Renewal today!

Go to the PADI Pros’ Site to update your credit or debit card details and add your donation to support Project AWARE’s critical conservation work!

Your support gives the ocean a voice, help secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protect marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

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Special Offer: Limited Edition Project AWARE 25th Anniversary Mask Strap

Project AWARE’s special 25th Anniversary limited edition mask strap is now available as a special thank you gift when donating through your PADI member renewal. The gift is available to any PADI member donating $25/€15/£15 or more.

Help Improve Our Oceans

Written by Megan Denny

National Geographic estimates 5.25 trillion pieces of trash end up in the ocean every year. That’s about 700 pieces of trash for every man, woman and child on the planet. And, a lot of that rubbish is plastic. The volume and types of trash in the ocean affects all marine creatures, from the smallest zooplankton to the largest whales.

Trash

As a dive professional, you’re uniquely qualified to help turn the tide toward a healthier ocean. There are many ways to make a difference including participating in year-round Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® surveys or organizing a special event on Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. Here are a few suggestions and examples of what other PADI® Pros are doing for International Coastal Cleanup Day this September.

Saturday, 16 September

International Coastal Cleanup Day is an ideal way to do important work for the local community and raise awareness about your business. Here are some tips for running a successful cleanup event:

  • Get the word out – Send a short press release to local news organizations (templates and tools are available on the PADI Pros’ Site).
  • Stock up – Encourage divers to get equipped with mesh collection bags, knives and gloves. Invite topside participants to bring gardening gloves, but bring extra gloves for those who forget.
  • Buddy up – Invite local environmental organizations to participate and help get the word out.
  • Create incentives – Jack’s Diving Locker in Hawai’i offers a free rental tank and half off rental gear to divers participating in their shoreline and underwater cleanup. Their 2017 event takes place on International Coastal Cleanup Day at the Kailua-Kona Pier from 9am – noon.
  • Document your activities: create a recap video or slideshow to share on social media and with local news outlets. Here’s an example from Eco Dive Center in California.

This year, Eco Dive Center is working together with two fellow clubs from PCH Scuba and In2Deep Scuba for the 13th Annual Underwater Santa Monica Pier Cleanup on International Coastal Cleanup Day.

Take Action Year Round

You don’t need to wait for International Coastal Cleanup Day to take action. Through Dive Against Debris surveys, divers can remove debris throughout the year at any dive location across the globe. If you dive at the same site frequently, why not adopt it? Project AWARE provides a suite of survey tools and a yearly report on the state of your local dive site. Simply conduct Dive Against Debris surveys once a month and report the marine debris you find. Receive special recognition for your efforts in addition to the feel-good benefits of helping the planet and local community. Learn more at: projectaware.org/adoptadivesite.

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Make Good Choices

While out of the water there are things you can do to support a clean and healthy ocean.

  • Donate to Project AWARE – Challenge friends, family and your student divers to do the same by creating a fundraising campaign. Get started at org/support. You can also peruse fundraising campaigns from fellow ocean-lovers at Finathon.org.

Do Your Part – Dive Against Debris®

Written by Megan Denny

For most people, ocean pollution is out of sight, out of mind, but as a dive professional you know that in many places there are significant debris problems lurking beneath the waves. That’s why Project AWARE® created Dive Against Debris® as a citizen science program that empowers you and your fellow divers to deliver critically needed data about the marine debris found in underwater habitats.

Since Dive Against Debris began in 2011:

  • More than 30,000 divers have participated
  • 900,000+ pieces of trash have been collected and reported
  • Thousands of entangled marine animals have been discovered

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The marine debris data reported by divers is essential to addressing and preventing ocean pollution. For example, last year, 26 percent of all debris items reported through Dive Against Debris was abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). ALDFG, also known as ghost gear, refers to derelict fishing gear that continues to capture fish and other marine animals long after it’s been lost or abandoned by fishermen). Ghost gear is devastating to marine habitats, entangling and killing hundreds of species including seals, turtles, dolphins and whales.  In a 2007 survey, NOAA estimated there are 85,000+ lobster and crab ghost traps in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary alone.

Through their Partnerships Against Trash, Project AWARE is committed to developing solutions with individuals, governments, NGOs and businesses including alliances such as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). Just this year, GGGI initiated ghost gear prevention and recovery programs in Alaska, Maine and the United Kingdom.

The ocean we love needs all hands on deck to protect it. By encouraging your student divers and customers to Dive Against Debris, we can improve the health of ocean ecosystems and provide valuable information about underwater debris to policy makers.

Reporting Marine Debris Just Got Easier

Project AWARE’s new Dive Against Debris app for Android and iOS makes it easy to report marine debris data. With the Dive Against Debris app you can:Open Water Manual (Redesign)

  • Quickly report debris by choosing from a list of common debris items
  • Easily add a dive site location using your mobile device’s GPS
  • Copy information from a previous submission at the same dive site.
  • No data connection? No problem. The app will store your data as a draft for you to complete and submit once connectivity is restored.

The free app is available for download after August 21 from the App Store or Google Play. Download it to report marine debris data and help spread the word.

PADI and Project AWARE Celebrate 25 Years of Ocean Action

Project AWARE® turns 25 this year. It’s an incredible milestone made possible by the global dive community’s continued support for ocean protection and a partnership powered by a shared vision for a healthy ocean. As PADI® deepens its commitment to ocean health and marine animal protection through the Four Pillars of Change, Project AWARE’s 25th Anniversary is testament to what can be accomplished when people join forces and engage in meaningful conservation action.

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It was in the late 1980s when Project A.W.A.R.E. (Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility and Education) was born to harness each diver’s potential to advocate for and protect underwater environments. What began as a “project” transformed rapidly into a separate nonprofit organization – the Project AWARE Foundation, which has grown into a full-fledged movement of divers, marine activists and aquatic enthusiasts uniting to take action for ocean protection. In the early days, Project AWARE focused on working to advance environmental awareness through diver education. As the movement grew, Project AWARE shifted its focus to empowering direct community action and campaigning for ocean issues divers care about most.

“Over the past quarter of a century, Project AWARE has stayed at the forefront of emerging ocean issues, amplified divers’ voices on the international stage and brought together a worldwide community tackling some of the most pressing ocean challenges,” says Dr. Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO and Chairman of the Project AWARE Foundation Board. “From its grassroots inception, Project AWARE has grown into a movement with strong initiatives that have a positive impact on the future of our ocean planet.”

With 25 years of ocean conservation successes fueled by an incredible network of supporters, governments, businesses, NGOs and conservation partners, Project AWARE has much to celebrate with PADI Members. You’ve helped secure historic protections for vulnerable shark and ray species. You’ve contributed to developing the world’s first and only marine debris database with more than 800,000 pieces of debris removed and reported from underwater environments. Using Project AWARE’s unique tools and resources, you’ve taught and continue to teach ocean protection to scuba divers, children, families and friends in local communities around the world, inspiring stewards for the ocean.

The past 25 years have created a strong foundation for Project AWARE to build its next wave of ocean protection. Now more than ever, Project AWARE is positioned to lead the charge by empowering the global dive community to be agents of positive change for the ocean, and engage ocean enthusiasts in meaningful conservation actions that the ocean desperately needs. Join the movement and protect our ocean planet – one dive at a timeSM.

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

 

Embracing Initiatives to Support Our Oceans 

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PADI® has a longstanding history of conservation and is building on that by joining forces to further support two of our Four Pillars of Change: Ocean Health and Marine Animal Protection. While continuing to support Project AWARE® in its efforts to reduce marine debris and protect endangered sharks and rays, there are new initiatives with the United Nations (UN) Development Programme and Mission Blue™.

Healthy Ocean, Healthy Planet

Alignment with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, allows the PADI family to increase efforts to conserve and sustainably use marine resources. By joining the #SaveOurOcean dialog initiated by the UN Development Programme, you and your divers can engage in conversations to increase awareness about the importance of ocean health and its effect on the bigger sustainability agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

Mission Blue™. – a Dr. Sylvia Earle alliance – focuses on growing the number of protected marine areas. Sharing stories of Hope Spots – a term for special places critical to ocean health, dubbed by Dr. Earle and Mission Blue – help identify areas that are precursors for marine protected areas. Nominating Hope Spots provides an opportunity for the PADI family and the dive industry to help reach the goal set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress to protect 30 percent of our world’s oceans by 2030.

One Dive at a Time

Project AWARE continues its vital work to protect our ocean planet. From collective action in local communities to large-scale change at the policy level, Project AWARE partners with you and your divers to reduce the amount of marine debris entering our ocean and protecting the world’s most threatened species of sharks and rays. Diver support is imperative for the oceans’ future and you can encourage everyone to dive into action and show their support through direct donations to Project AWARE, as well as in grassroots efforts including Dive Against Debris® and Adopt a Dive Site. Check out Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Divers Action Kit for tools you can use to inspire action.

Lend your support for global efforts to improve the future of the oceans under the structure of our Four Pillars of Change. By taking action to reduce marine debris, establish more marine protected areas and protect marine animals, together we can increase biodiversity and work toward sustainable management of the oceans and their resources. PADI Pros and divers drive change every day and have stories to share to inspire others to do the same. If you have a story you want to share, email fourpillarsofchange@padi.com.

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

 

Protect Sharks and Rays with Your Dive Business

Project AWARE®, WWF and The Manta Trust are pleased to release Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism: A Guide to Best Practice, the world’s first-ever guidelines for shark and ray tourism operators. The Guide aims to provide practical, science-based guidance to help tourism operators, NGOs and local communities develop and maintain well managed tourism operations that help conserve shark and ray species, raise awareness for their protection, and benefit local communities.

Unsustainable exploitation of sharks and rays – mainly driven by overfishing – is widespread with one in four shark and ray species now threatened with an increased risk of extinction.

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Yet across the globe, shark and ray tourism is increasing in popularity. Currently, around 400 well-established tourism operations focus on interacting with species of sharks and rays, and it’s estimated that this number could more than double over the next twenty years, generating over $780 million USD in expenditures around the world.

Dr Andy Cornish, WWF says, “Shark and ray focused ecotourism has great potential as a conservation strategy. If properly designed and managed, it can provide alternative direct and indirect economic benefits to local communities and economies. Yet sadly there’s limited practical guidance out there.”

Industry, researchers, authorities and the nonprofit community largely agree that best-practice guidance is urgently needed to ensure that tourism sites are established and operated in a manner that benefits sharks and rays, and local communities, while also inspiring awe, respect and a greater appreciation of the need to conserve these animals.

Project Aware

Isabel Ender, Manta Trust, adds, “Lack of best practice guidance can often leave operators confused about how to assess the impact and improve the sustainability of their operation. We sought advice from scientists and the industry to help bridge that gap and deliver a best practice guide – the first of its kind in the world.”

To support operators seeking to commit to best practice, a full suite of free, downloadable tools is available on all of the organizations’ websites.

Proeject Aware Sharks and Ray conservation

For further information or to download any of the tools visit Project AWARE, WWF and The Manta Trust websites.