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NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Dive Club

NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Dive Club can help diving kids develop an appreciation for, and knowledge of, ocean conservation

If your kids are new divers and interested in ocean conservation, NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Dive Club offers a fun (and educational way) to teach them how to make a difference when it comes to the environment. Read on to find out about NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Dive Club and what your youngest dive buddy will learn.

NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Dive Club

The Ocean Guardian Dive Club is the brainchild of school teacher and dive instructor Marlies Tumolo, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Tumolo believes that we must teach today’s kids about conservation so that they can impact it in the future.

As the dive community and industry age, dive shops often struggle to attract young people to the sport. So Tumolo envisioned a program that would attract young people to scuba and teach them about conservation and stewardship.

“The goal of the program is to strengthen youth involvement in diving and get them engaged in ocean conservation,” she says.

What do the kids do?

Trained instructors from designated shops teach the program, which focuses on kids age 8-12. Each individual on-line module focuses on one of the 13 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments. Each module also highlights the specific conservation issues and resources at each location.

Kids learn in the classroom and then play games to reinforce the lesson before heading to the pool. For example, students learn about invasive lionfish in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and then go to the pool to conduct a mock lionfish-reporting activity. They log location, size, and behavior of “lionfish” while maintaining buoyancy, checking air, and performing other dive tasks. All hands-on water activities take place in the pool so that dive shops across the country can participate, not just those near large bodies of water.

Where is the program available?

Four modules are available as part of a pilot program at five dive shops — Blue Planet Scuba in Washington, D.C.; Lynnhaven Dive Center in Virginia; Nautilus Aquatics, also in Virginia; Rum Runner Scuba in North Carolina; and Jack’s Diving Locker in Hawaii. The modules include lessons on ocean literacy and how to be a guardian in daily life, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and invasive lionfish, Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and humpback whale migrations, and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the impacts of marine debris. At the beginning of April 2017, the second pilot program kicked off in approximately 30 dive shops around the country.

Real-World Experience

Program participants will conduct an annual Ocean Guardian stewardship project to help create positive environmental change in local communities. The type of project is up to the dive shop, but they must advertise the event, invite participants, collect data, and show the project’s impact. Examples might include a beach or watershed cleanup, or a campaign to reduce ocean pollution.

You can find out more information about getting involved with the Ocean Guardian Dive Club program here.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is a national non-profit partner for America’s marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries. The Foundation supports education programs like the Ocean Guardian Dive Club to engage more young people in ocean conservation. The generous support of organizations and individuals allows programs like Ocean Guardian to grow and flourish. Learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s support of national marine sanctuaries and support the Ocean Guardian Dive Club program by visiting their website here