In this week’s Community Spotlight, Project AWARE catches up with Grace Williams, a scuba professional who is inspiring divers everywhere to educate others on how protect our ocean.
Tell us about your passion for ocean conservation.
I am a PADI Master Instructor working at UnderwaterVision on Utila in the Bay Islands of Honduras. I've had a passion for the ocean since I was a small child living on a sailboat in the South Pacific. Living with the ocean I became deeply passionate about the conservation and protection of our beautiful planet. I believe that we, as divers, are the key to educating the world about our ocean and how to protect it.
Why and when did you get involved with Project AWARE?
I first learned about Project AWARE in Panama during my divemaster course. I heard my mentor explaining to her students the benefits of donating to Project AWARE and receiving the special certification card. However, it was my course director Diego Frank who actually educated me on all that Project AWARE does for our ocean planet. He told me what I could do to help. So I started organizing weekly beach clean ups and bi-weekly Dive Against Debris surveys.
What are some issues that are affecting your local dive site or favorite underwater areas?
Here in Utila, the number one problem is debris. When it rains trash is washed off the mainland and a large amount finds its way to our local dive sites. We also find a lot of fishing line stuck in the corals from the local fisherman trawling and fishing our reefs. Our beaches are also severely impacted by debris as well, if you go to any beach here on the island you will be confronted with hundreds of pounds of plastic.
Tell us about your work!
Every dive that I do can turn into a Dive Against Debris. Recently I've been encouraging all of the divemasters in training to start participating and entering data on the Project AWARE website. I have also been organizing weekly beach cleanups for everyone on Utila to participate in. This has been a big step in getting people interested in making a difference. Every scuba professional can and should promote Project AWARE courses and 10 Tips for Divers to Protect Our Ocean Planet.
What has been the highlight of your Project AWARE experience?
Working with Project AWARE has truly been an exceptional experience. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to educate people on the benefits of promoting Project AWARE by attending beach cleanups and Dive Against Debris not only at a student level but at a professional level. When people come on their first cleanup they really see how much trash is floating around in our ocean and it makes them motivated to make a change in their lifestyles to try and prevent more pollution.
What is the most important thing you tell others about Project AWARE?
Project AWARE is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting our underwater world. They focus on conservation through education and that it is our job as divers to do everything we can to help protect our oceans. Every little bit makes a difference, whether it's donating or educating your friends and family, we have an obligation to try and save our planet.