In this week’s Community Spotlight, Project AWARE catches up with Laura Hutchings, a scuba instructor at Performance Diver, New Zealand.
Tell us about your passion for ocean conservation.
I’m a scuba diver, ocean enthusiast and environmental activist! My passion in conservation is driven by the next generation. The ocean is my office, my playground and my happy and safe place. I want the ocean to be all these things and more for all the generations that follow.
Why and when did you get involved with Project AWARE?
12 years ago! After completing my PADI Open Water course my instructor introduced us to Project AWARE and my first donation to the cause was made by upgrading my certification card!
What are some issues that are affecting your local dive site or favorite underwater areas?
Plastic! There is always plastic of some description under the water, but at the moment fishing line is a real problem at the sites we dive, we are on a mission to clear the piers of it.
What Project AWARE programs have you participated in? Tell us about your work.
Every dive is a Dive Against Debris! I’ve participated in a few Dive Against Debris surveys over the years, and last year I organized a local survey and taught my first Dive Against Debris Specialty course. My goal this year is to teach my first AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty course.
What has been the highlight of your Project AWARE experience?
Educating the next generation! I’m currently teaching the Project AWARE Specialty to my very own PADI Seal (my 8-year-old daughter). Kids are never too young to get involved.
What is the most important thing you tell others about Project AWARE?
That you need our help! The Project AWARE team is just a handful of people, you’re doing an amazing job but can't do it alone. Do something! Get involved! Be AWARE!!!
Photo: Laura Hutchings (left) courtesy of Joanna Roberts (right)