Every year Katerina Topouzoglou embarks on a journey from Greece to the Bahamas with one mission in mind: To motivate the local Bahamas island community to care for and protect the ocean.
Locals here have a deep rooted fear of the sea, “as long as the children don’t go into the ocean" says the Principal of Black Point Cay.
Yet Topouzoglou remains undeterred. She has to find a way to inspire these children.
Sharing video footage, Katerina led the children on an underwater journey. They saw the peacefulness and calm of the deep blue ocean. Then, as the light filtered through, they witnessed Topouzoglou removing all the rubbish that lay on the sea floor - plastics, trash and even a toilet bowl.
The next day the children were so excited to do a beach cleanup, every piece of garbage discovered adding to the excitement. Katerina decided to grab her mask and snorkel and dove straight into the water.
By this time kids everywhere were watching, worried for her safety. But with every surface break, and her bag loaded with trash from her finds, the kids watched in awe!
“Seeing my smile each time I resurfaced, feeling my pride as I watched them help me, triggered something. After only a couple of minutes, the kids were asking for gloves and started jumping in the sea with me!"
"Suddenly everyone was in the water helping me, screaming with joy. They were no longer afraid!”
Katerina Topouzoglou is a PADI Freediving Instructor, Open Water Scuba Instructor and an AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Specialty Instructor. You can follow Katerina's adventures on Instagram @katerina_top.