Bearking Through Barriers for Conservation

The American Academy of Underwater Sciences is a group of dive professionals that are dedicated to training scientists to safley collect their data underwater and develop new methods to do research underwater. They make possible the underwater exploration in the name of science. It is to these individuals Phil Dustan and I are trying to explain the intangible affects of participation and the power behind it.

It would seem that science broke free from it’s connection to philosophy and emotion with the dawn of modern science. Before there was a holistic connection to science, the philosophy behind it, and what drove us to explore and ask questions. That drive has never left, but we are forced to exclude it in our methods, or our findings. It is this drive that connects us to our world, what makes the scientist so passionate.

Ed Ricketts, early 1930’s coastal marine ecologists found a way to combine his scientific discoveries with his philosophies on humans interaction with the world. His essays on Breaking Through and non-theological thinking helps describe what happens to us emotionally when we participate in life and why that is crucial for all our well being and survival.

Breaking Through revolves around our desire to participate in liefs events. But to participate we must go outside ourselves and engage in something bigger. This action creates a connection. Weather it is to other people, or animal or the environment the connection allows us to care for more than just ourselves. This is the breaking through.

He outlines the path that breaking through takes:

1. an intolerable problem

2. facing the problem and discovering a solution

4. becoming unbiased and resolved. An emotional release.

Through this path we take an inner journey that frees us from our own helplessness and empowers us to change the world. The action of consciously facing a problem that is overwhelming is courageous. Physically interacting and working on solutions creates the energy, the participation. The release is the triumph, arriving upon a solution. The emotional reward from this is breaking through an understanding that we are apart of something greater than the self. That we can tap into that with other people and organisms. We are suddenly not alone.

It is this underlining concept that we introduce to AAUS, We present four examples of participatory projects and the impact it has on student divers. Our presentation to the AAUS community was titled Breaking Through Barriers for Marine Conservation. We recapped the history of diving with the advent of the Aqualung and how it opened up the shallow seas for sport, exploration and Science diving. In the 60-70 diving scientists documented increased ecological degradation correlated with local to global anthropogenic stressors. We emphasized that science can no longer be simply “loading doc” science. We must have a plan that remidiates or restores the habitat to support life.

We then provided our examples of projects being done around the world that are based form science, reduce local impacts damage and focus on local participation.

1. Hawaii clean up dives

2. Belize Lionfish removal.

3. Belize/ Jamiaca Sea Urhin Restoration Effort (SURE)

4. Bali Mooring buoy team.

After briefly describing these projects we put out our call to action. For AAUS to include conservation diving into thei programs. Each Organizational Member would develop appropriate exercises for the environments they are diving in, and instill the ethics of conservation into their students and divers.

When we gave our final slide and thanked everybody for coming, we were met with a round of applause. Hands flew up and starting asking questions about the individual projects and pictures we had shown. We also had a lot of advocacy from those members that partner with citizen science groups and those that see the value in the ethic.

We are entering a new age where it is imperative to get involved and participate in the solution. Our ocean is just the symptom of a sick world. Our disconnection from our food, our goods and the earth has perpetuated this disease. We as a planet are very sick, and we need to get involved with the recovery of the whole biosphere. A small group of people can not accomplish this. We need local communities all over the world to work together and care for their reefs,watersheds,wet lands, forests, grasslands and every other ecotype on the planet. The ecology is local, the effect is global. Participate, connect with world beyond yourself and break through

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