Imagine you’re a dive guide or instructor. Your guests are excited to get underwater for their first dive. Everyone piles onto the boat and you head out to the dive site. On the way, a few smokers absent-mindedly flick their cigarette butts over the side of the boat. Another is eating something and drops the wrapper onto the floor; and the fourth is slathering on chemical sunscreen. At the dive site everyone gears up and jumps in.
Once at depth, a slight current means one guest is colliding with the seafloor, grabbing onto anything in sight for stability. Another is completely engrossed with his camera — flash on. He’s completely unaware that he’s destroying visibility by kicking up sand as he tries to maintain position. Finally, you cringe as you a loose, trailing octopus break off a sea fan. What can you do in situations like these? The Green Fins initiative by the Reef-World Foundation attempts to create better, more eco-conscious divers. They’ve just released a free online training course to help do so: the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course.
Confronting ocean challenges
The diving industry is booming, with over one million newly certified divers each year. Reef-based tourism activities generate $19 billion on an annual basis. Reef tourism draws visitors to over 100 countries and territories around the world. But these businesses depend on healthy coral reefs, which are facing widespread threats, such as overfishing, climate change and severe bleaching events. Protecting coral reefs from the impacts of an increasing number of divers makes them more resilient to these global threats and, therefore, has never been more important.
Faced with this challenge, the Reef-World Foundation has distilled 10-years’ experience coordinating the Green Fins initiative among the global dive community to create a unique, free online training course: The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course. The foundation designed the course to build on the existing knowledge, experience and passion of local dive guides by empowering them with greater environmental knowledge and tools to better manage their guests.
The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
The course consists of three modules, followed by corresponding tests on an intuitive, user-friendly platform:
- Module 1: An introduction to coral-reef biology: The Green Fins approach. This module explains why it’s imperative to protect reefs and how guides can use Green Fins resources, such as posters and guidelines, to support their daily work.
- Module 2: Management techniques above water. These include ways to plan an environmentally friendly dive and also maximize the opportunity of an effective environmental pre-dive briefing to encourage guests to limit their environmental impact.
- Module 3: How to confidently lead a dive using positive role model behavior and follow through with underwater corrections. This module includes tips on helping guests adjust buoyancy, for example, followed by an explanation and positive reinforcement once the dive is over. Research has shown divers who receive environmental information in pre-dive briefings coupled with interventions underwater cause significantly less damage to coral.
Helping customers help the ocean
The plight of our oceans is no longer a secret and more people are choosing environmentally responsible businesses as a way to make positive change. Dive guides are in an optimum position to use their experience and knowledge to implement behavior changes that support healthy reefs and encourage others to do the same. This new course for dive guides can help them pass along a greater sense of confidence and can instill a sense of engagement with the underwater world in their customers. Dive centers can also offer the course as an accompanying certification to those undertaking divemaster courses. The dive industry is a close-knit community and Green Fins members and certified guides also benefit from support from the Green Fins network as well as promotion through the ever-expanding Green Fins community.
While advising or correcting a customer might seem daunting, implementing the Green Fins Dive e-Course can help give dive guides a new level of confidence when liaising with customers. In turn, this can help create better, more informed divers who will take their new-found knowledge with them wherever they go, helping make the scenarios described above things of the past.
The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course is completely free. Users who want to display their completion certificate (to attract environmentally-minded customers) can pay (£19/$24) for a certificate at the end of the course. All fees go toward The Reef-World Foundation’s work to protect coral reefs.
Guest post by Rebecca Gillham, The Reef-World Foundation