On September 19th 2012 DiveVersity Holiday Beach organized a “Dive against Debris” as part of the Project AWARE Debris Month of Action Rally. After extensive planning and coordination the event turned out to be a huge success. More than 100 volunteers gathered and cleaned a 2 mile stretch of Curacao’s coastline, both underwater and on the shore. Certified divers and beach cleaners from all over the island could sign up, and all dive and clean up equipment was provided by DiveVersity Holiday Beach free of charge.
The event was a result of the combined efforts of DiveVersity Holiday Beach (S-20079), the Holiday Beach Resort and The United States Air Force (USAF). “The U.S. military personnel are assigned to Forward Operating Location (FOL) Curacao for the direct purpose of enabling joint, interagency, and multi-national aircraft operations that conduct regional narcotics detection, monitoring, and tracking missions. However, we have the equally important task to assist in humanitarian missions.
In point, we’re guests of this beautiful island and it’s our desire to always foster positive relations with the community. We do this by demonstrating that we’re involved partners, and whenever we can, help make Curacao a better place.
This Reef and Beach clean-up was just one of 82 similar community relations events this year.” According to US Air Force Lt Col Timothy E. Beers FOL Commander.
Under supervision of PADI Instructors, DiveVersity Holiday Beach was able to integrate PADI Assistant Instructor and PADI Divemaster courses into the reef and beach cleanup.
Divemaster trainees Jake Hickcox, Michael Remillard, and Rob Kerr had to set up and manage the dive sites. Each one of them dealt with a different dive site where they did broad planning to make sure all safety and logistics requirements were met. Mapping, an emergency action plan, and a dive briefing made it possible for them to bring certified divers out to pick up trash from the reef.
Together with PADI Instructors and Assistant Instructor trainees Lisette Keus (DM-304676), Jasba Simpson (DM-251963), and Jon Daur (DM-234847) they were able to achieve an amazing goal. Congratulations to our new PADI Professionals. L-R, Divemaster trainees Michael Remillard, Rob Kerr and Jake Hickcox.
After the day of cleaning the day wasn't over yet. As part of the awareness campaign of DiveVersity Holiday Beach, the dive shop invited Dr. Mark Vermeij, Scientific Director of the Caribbean Research & Management of Biodiversity Foundation (CARMABI) to give a presentation on the importance of a coral reef ecosystem.
He emphasized the impact of damaging such an ecosystem has on tourism, the local economy, and coastal protection by, among others, pollution and coastal evelopment. With lots of humor and excellent examples, Dr. Mark Vermeij made it a very interesting evening for divers and non-divers alike.
CARMABI and DiveVersity Holiday Beach are no strangers to each other. Together, they have been working for years educating the public about the importance of a healthy reef system around Curacao. In addition DiveVersity Holiday Beach has an outstanding relationship with CARMABI by providing researchers from all over the world with great discounts and special training.
“The event was a definite success; well organized with great advertisement beforehand. Great participation and teamwork by all; the collection of 1,100 pounds of debris was a tremendous effort and definitely will have a positive impact on the local environment and ecology. Ultimately, it showed what people working together can accomplish.” Said Lt Col Beers.
DiveVersity Holiday Beach and the CARMABI Foundation were more than satisfied with turn out. Dive shop owners, Jeroen Blokzeijl (IDC-Staff 976119) and Francis Hooijen (MSDT 254072) comment “It’s fantastic seeing the interest in coral reef awareness growing. Every year more and more tourist, USAF, locals and non-divers are participating in these events.” DiveVersity Holiday Beach is looking forward to next year.