Diving for Good

I made a big announcement two weeks ago that my Epic Ocean Adventure blog and website were going live and I haven’t posted once since. It’s not for a lack of passion. I have been so focused on learning to scuba dive and exploring how I can contribute to local efforts to protect coral reefs, I haven’t been putting my hands to the keyboard as often as I could.  There is a tension between actively volunteering in the field and sitting at a computer to write about it and, so far, action speaks louder than words. But now that the high surf and wind have kept us shore-bound for three days, I've had more time to reflect and very much want to share what I am learning.

For five of the last eight days I have dived 2-3 tanks daily to help young coral grow at the Coral Restoration Foundation’s 1.5 acre underwater farm (above). I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, and passionate about the day-to-day impact we are making. As those who scuba dive on boats would guess, a three-tank boat outing is an eight-hour experience filled with sights and sounds, above and below the surface.  Once back on dry land, the endorphins wear off and nitrogen “off gassing” lulls me into a groggy, where can I lie down? state of mind. Volunteering while diving is so captivating and time-consuming. Nothing prepared me for the visceral, ocean-all-around-me experience of contributing to such a project. I am so passionate about it that I have been in the Keys for over a week and have yet to dive an actual coral reef!

I have realized that in addition to writing stories about what other people are doing to protect our reef ecosystems and transition to sustainable use of the ocean, I would be remiss if I didn’t also share my experiences volunteering on the projects I encounter around the world. So expect that some of my stories will be interwoven into the rest. I want to dedicate my trip to directly contributing to local efforts, not just writing about them.  I want to empower you to think about how you too can actively participate in improving your own community and those you travel to. The easiest way to do that is to share my own adventure and inspire you to join in.

Over the next two weeks I'll be sharing a few blog posts about volunteering with the Coral Restoration Foundation. In honor of my quick trip back to the Big Island to look at land to buy, I’ll also share some recent field experiences with the Coral Reef Alliance, Turtle Island Restoration Network and others while in the Hawaiian Islands last month.  In ten days I am off to Soufriere, Saint Lucia to learn more about CLEAR Caribbean’s grassroots, coral restoration project.  I hope you will join me for the ride.