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They Work for the Blue

PADI Members across the globe are working for the blue by standing up for ocean conservation. These Members come from diverse locations and backgrounds, but have one thing in common – their commitment to the ocean. Read on to enjoy a much-needed dose of ocean hope, through real examples of how the efforts of a few can result in global, positive ocean change.

Brian Bennet / Aquarius Dive Shop

Project: Giant Kelp Restoration Project
Location: California, USA
Goal: to protect California’s threatened kelp forests by testing rehabilitation and protection methods – including the removal of invasive species – as well as replanting and growing new kelp.

PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer Brian Bennet volunteers as a scientific diver for the California department of fish and wildlife, as well as a dive safety officer for the San Francisco State University working with Aquarius Dive Shop. Bennet and Aquarius Dive shop are also among the first recipients of funding from the PADI AWARE Community Grant program. Focused on improving both the safety and the efficiency of researchers and dive teams, Bennet’s proudest achievements include making huge strides towards protecting the ecosystem on the west coast, certifying tons of students to help with the work, and certifying new instructors to help teach the course. For Brian, success would look like the purple urchin population being brought back to normal densities, and the restoration of kelp forests in areas where they used to thrive.
“The kelp forests are some of the most bio diverse habitats in our oceans and now more than ever they need our help to stop the deforestation.“

Learn more at /

Maxine McLaughlin 

Project:  As well as being a PADI AWARE Instructor and PADI AWARE supporter, Maxine is a supporter of Balu Blue Foundation – a registered Australian charity with a focus on widespread protection and enhancement of the natural environment and animals across Australia.
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Goal:  To use freediving as a tool to contribute to the community’s overall knowledge of the ocean; to be a positive influence and role model.

Maxine McLaughlin, a PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer based in Australia, believes that a focus on education and awareness is key to delivering future positive change for our oceans. “I grew up in Shellharbour (NSW, Australia) and have seen the changes across parts of our coastline from Queensland down to my home town in my lifetime alone. I can only imagine how much they have changed from previous generations, when – as I understand it – there wasn’t as much education around the ocean and the impact we can have on it. Nowadays, we don’t have any excuse to turn a blind eye. The problem now is the consistency of the education being delivered; it’s up to communities to connect and help share our knowledge of the ocean and how we can help, especially since these things aren’t being taught broadly in schools.” 

Freediving has taken Maxine to a range of locations including Hawaii, Thailand, Indonesia, Guadeloupe, Dominica, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Honduras and Mexico. She now teaches PADI Freediver Instructor courses in her local Shellharbour, as well as the broader New South Wales area, and is travelling to other destinations across Australia to share her passion for both Freediving and conservation. Maxine has plans for a range of community engagement and fundraising events to support the Balu Blue Foundation and raise awareness “about some big changes that are happening right here in our backyards in NSW”. As Maxine continues to use her position and influence for the good of ocean conservation, she is certainly one to watch in Shellharbour, Australia and beyond!

Find out more about Balu Blue Foundation: 

Maxine McLaughlin

Rose Lowe / Dodo Divers, Ltd

Project: Dodo Reef Restoration
Coin de Mire Island, Mauritius
Goal: to support the restoration of 10,000 sqm of degraded reef by transplanting cultivated coral colonies over a 4 year period.

Rose Lowe of Dodo Divers, a PADI Five Star Dive Center, is one of the few people who can claim that the recent COVID-19 pandemic helped to solve some problems for her, as it removed the main barriers to her starting to focus on conservation – time and funding. With previous experience in the charity sector, Rose was aware that just getting started wasn’t enough; she wanted to make sure that the project was both financially secure and sustainable. With an evident decline in coral cover and health at a nearby dive site called Confetti Bay in the bay of Coin de Mire Island, it was an easy decision to begin work there – a place that the team felt they could make both a tangible and visible difference. Sustainability is now at the heart of the project with the hope of enabling a self-sustaining coral nursery in the coming years. Also a 2022 PADI AWARE Community Grantee, Rose shared her view on the current coral reef situation:

“As divers, we have a front row seat to the horrific degradation of the reefs we all love so much. As such, we all have a responsibility to do whatever small piece we can to not only protect but also help to reverse some of the damage.”

Find out more:

Mermaid Elle

Project:  #SavingTheSeas
Location: Florida, USA
Goal: To promote ocean conservation awareness and the problem with pollution in the ocean through “edutainment.”

Elle Jimenez is not only a world-renowned certified full-time professional mermaid and underwater performer, she is also a certified PADI Mermaid Instructor and member of the PADI Official Mermaid Team. As an ocean conservation advocate and certified marine ecologist, promoting the protection and healing of our oceans and environment is one of Elle’s core focuses with the belief that education is key. She has created “Mermaid Elle®”, a family-friendly mermaid character to help promote ocean conservation awareness and the problem with pollution in the ocean through “edutainment.” 

Mermaids represent the beauty and magnificence of the ocean and therefore it is our mission as half-human, half-fish creatures to bring awareness to the many issues threatening our oceans.”

The Saving the Seas Project was created by Mermaid Elle to inspire ocean conservation awareness and action through her mermaid work as an educational entertainer. She creates magnificent, ocean-inspired content, and has been donating to ocean conservation every year since the start of her career. With more than  two million followers across multiple social media platforms, Mermaid Elle is a voice for our ocean’s health. 

Find out more about #SavingTheSeas: 

photo credit: @themermaidelle

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