In this week’s Community Spotlight, Project AWARE catches up with Sam Riches, a scuba diver in Spain.
Tell us about your passion for ocean conservation.
I am currently training to become a divemaster and have a BSC in Zoology and an MSC specializing in Marine Biology.
Ever since I was able to walk, I have tried to spend as much time as I can on or under the water! I have been a scuba diver since my early teens and am now working towards becoming a dive professional with Simply Diving here in Spain. I can’t wait to be able to share my passion for the ocean with all my future students and fellow dive professionals!
Why and when did you get involved with Project AWARE?
I got introduced to Project AWARE through Simply Diving, but was initially inspired to get into ocean conservation and awareness by Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue documentary. It was amazing and really opened my eyes to the threats facing our ocean.
What are some issues that are affecting your local dive site or favorite underwater areas?
Obviously here in the Mediterranean we have the long history of over fishing. Thankfully there is a lot of work being done locally to combat this and we are seeing evidence of more fish at our dive sites. We are at the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean. We have some pretty impressive currents and upwellings. Unfortunately we do come across plastics and other marine debris.
Tell us about your most recent actions.
I've been busy raising money for Project AWARE and raising awareness! I've been growing my dreads for seven years so I decided to ask people to sponsor me to cut them off. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support. We smashed our target and raised €340. It was really cool - even our bosses shaved their beards and heads to support the cause.
It's great when you can raise awareness with your non-diving friends about the sheer scale of marine pollution. Many of my friends had no idea. Some of them have now even promised to learn to dive with us so they can take action underwater too.
What is the most important thing you tell others about Project AWARE?
It’s about getting the individual to take responsibility! We all need to be aware of our own individual impact on the delicate marine environment and encourage as many others as possible to do their bit.