ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS: Focusing on local environmental problems and solutions is our way to teach kids to start thinking in human interactions with Nature. All our different programs involve interaction with the subject of study. It could be a snorkel trip, a SCUBA diving adventure, a beach cleanup, or any other fun activity that provides the emotional kick that is so important for real learning to happen. We have been doing these experiences for a few years and our impact evaluation was highly positive. The chance to use a digital camera and try SCUBA gear are great source of motivation and confidence builder for kids and teens. Reviewing the pictures taken and reinforcing their natural interests integrating the experience with an art project keep the kids enthusiasts.
Partnering with local dive centers, schools and community leaders give these experiences a good start to create action networks. Inspiration and natural creativity from the students can take our projects to a new direction when we find specifics interests arising, so we always allow a time and activity openness in our programs. There is no rush to force content inside the students. The basic idea is that if experience and feelings come first, knowledge will follow.
: While working with our friends of Pemba Live nonprofit organization, we notice a massive outbreak of Crown of thorns starfish that was covering a whole mile of the coral reef. This starfish feeds on live coral, and we literally saw the reef dying in front of our eyes. While manipulating nature can have devastating effects and unpredictable consequences, we decide to follow the marine biologists’ advice and proceed to organize volunteers and donors to safely remove them.
The black market of shells is possible responsible for the outbreak, because big Triton shells feed of the starfish. Lacking predators, the Crown of Thorns population explodes. While the removal of a huge quantity of them helps the reef temporarily, the huge success was make the local leaders understand the problem and involved them into action. They provided a team of free divers that speed us the process of removal and make safer the work of volunteer SCUBA divers by not having to go up and down every time a bag was filled up.
BEHAVIOR CHANGE: There are millions of tons of plastics present in our oceans, and these are constantly fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces which are scattered throughout the water column and present, in different densities, throughout all the worlds’ oceans. Cleaning up this mess is not feasible, technically or economically. Even if all the boats in the world were put to the task somehow, the cleanup would not only remove the plastics but also the plankton, which is the base of the food chain, and is responsible for capturing half of the CO2 of our atmosphere and generating half of the oxygen we need to breathe. But even if this problem was solved too somehow, the amount of plastic that we could capture, at an immense cost, would be a drop in the bucket as compared to the amount that flows into the ocean every day. No matter how hard we push, in terms of technology or money, the boulder will be rolling back down the hill, throughout eternity, unless we stop putting more plastics into our environment. While organizing beach or dive clean ups we focus on education. Stop the plastic consumption is essential.