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My PADI® helps me…protect our blue planet

Across the globe, PADI Members are using their knowledge, passion and their PADI to share the importance of protecting vulnerable ocean species, and the ocean itself. Here we highlight just a few who are dedicated to protecting our blue planet and educating others to follow in their footsteps.

Cristina Zenato

PADI Course Director, Shark Behaviorist, Ocean Conservationist
(The Bahamas, Caribbean)

Cristina’s original education was in languages with application to the tourism industry; the goal was to become a hotel director. However, she abandoned that route to follow the dream of becoming an underwater explorer and used the languages to enter the world of professional scuba diving. Cristina now lives and works in Grand Bahama, working primarily with sharks and as a technical instructor in caves.

Cristina takes people diving with sharks and has created a unique course where they can interact with sharks in a one-on-one experience under her direct supervision. While working with them, she removes hooks left behind by fishermen. She also collects data on the sharks, monitoring their presence on the sites, collecting identifying marks and cataloguing individuals.

“My passion is my work; my work is my passion in a blurred line that does not distinguish me as I am constantly between diving with guests or students or diving for my growth and pleasure. When not diving, I spend a lot of time conducting educational programs online with schools, clubs, and mentorship programs I support. I am the founder of People of the Water (www.pownonprofit.org), a small nonprofit created to expand the work I conducted in the last 20 years. It is organized to widen the conduction and distribution of training, education, research, and studies relating to water, ocean, and environmental issues affecting the people and the animals.

Cristina is one of the key people who promoted and helped bring to approval the declaration by The Bahamas as a shark sanctuary. She is also very proud to have mentored, supported, and trained dozens of local Bahamians to become scuba diving professionals, empowering them to earn a living beyond fishing. Recognizing that shark tourism is an excellent asset to the economy and guaranteeing free access to that asset have been two of her most significant accomplishments.

Cristina’s message is simple – believe in the power of one. Cristina champions the idea that we each can make a difference through our daily actions. When we think that what we are doing is not enough, we need to remember that it’s better to complete one small action than no big action. 

Peisee Hwang

Founder of Bubbles Turtle Project
(Malaysia)

While building their dive centre on Tanjung Tukas, Perhentian Besar, Malaysia in 2005, Peisee Hwang and two partners of the now PADI Five Star Bubbles Dive Resort  discovered a large number of turtles nested on the beach and knew that they had to immediately act. They pledged to  do everything they could to ensure the nesting site remained undisturbed, and strived to spread awareness to every guest that visited the center.

Since then, Peisee reports, “We have the highest nest and egg count of all the Pulau Perhentian beaches”.  Today, their goal remains unchanged – to protect the nesting site  they provide community training and beach patrols, while also aiming to change behaviors through education and presentations at local schools and groups to reduce turtle egg consumption.

So what does success look like for this project? “When we release thousands of babies to the sea each year, and when the children we’ve met share our turtle talk with their schoolmates, and we get invitations to give talks to schools or organisations, we know our mission is heading the right way.”

Tamador “Tammy” Bait Al Mal

The first Saudi female PADI Course Director
(Saudi Arabia)

PADI Course Director Tamador “Tammy” Bait Al Mal is taking the seas of Saudi Arabia by storm through Diving Secrets Center, a PADI Five Star Dive Center. The first Saudi female Course Director, Tammy is passionate about empowering women and protecting the seas through community outreach and local action. 

“For me, diving was a way to assert my own autonomy and agency over my life. I wanted other women to experience that and make a difference – especially when it comes to protecting our oceans.” 

In line with Saudi Arabia’s ecotourism efforts, her latest project is a program designed to integrate key PADI AWARE concepts into her training courses and trips. “Everyone who signs up for a course is taught the basics,” she says. “There’s a saying in Arabic that roughly translates into ‘O guests, be polite,’ and it’s in our culture to be well-behaved visitors, so we remind our students that’s no different when diving – we are visitors, and there’s a lot of responsibility and respect that must come with that.”

Julie Ferrara (Jewels Diver)

PADI Freediving Instructor, Mermaid Instructor Trainer, PADI Mermaid Advisory Board Member, PADI Mermaid Ambassador Team Member 
(Mexico)

Julie Ferrara, a PADI Freediving Instructor and Mermaid Instructor Trainer with Freedive Mermaid Cozumel, has a passion for education, entertainment, and the environment – a combination that comes to life through the Mermaids for Conservation team. With a background in competitive sports, Julie knows that trust and teamwork are often key elements in a winning team and looks for the same team spirit to assist in saving our oceans.  As she says of the team, “We swim and freedive to educate, entertain, and inspire folks to join our siren song and be the catalyst for change to ensure eco-friendly practices in government policies.

This work was inspired by the visible changes in the Mesoamerican reef system, largely caused by the increase in tourism. “I understood there are many contributing factors to the health of any reef or jungle ecosystem,” continues Ferrara, “but being an educator at heart, I was determined to teach both local folks and tourists some easy things they could do (or buy) that would make a difference. I strived to be the example of a particular lifestyle; a healthy way of living where I take care of myself as well as the planet. 

“In helping people feel more connected to themselves in freediving and mermaid classes (blue mind), it was a smooth-transition to nurture the concern and care for those places where we love to do those things (blue life). Here is where the connection happens, and in comes the realization that what we do for ourselves and at home de-fin-itely affects the world around us (blue planet).”

Julie Ferrara (Jewels Diver)

The post My PADI® helps me…protect our blue planet appeared first on PADI Pros.

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