“From the most important animal to have ever lived on earth, to their hauntingly lovely songs, unimaginable migrations, playful calfs, and tales of them going out of their solution to shield different species from hurt. Our mammalian ocean cousins want our assist.”
– Dive Ninjas, Whale Defender PADI Distinctive Specialty
Many people have spent quite a few hours over the previous yr dreaming about whale encounters whereas caught in lockdown. So, once we caught wind of a PADI Grasp Teacher in Mexico who had spent the yr creating the Whale Defender PADI Distinctive Specialty Course, we needed to know extra.
Digging for particulars led me to Jay Clue, a PADI Grasp Teacher, Tec Trimix Teacher and Founding father of 100% AWARE Dive Ninja Expeditions in Cabos San Lucas. Right here’s what he informed me concerning the specialty, his ever-evolving relationship with the ocean and his hopes for the way forward for the marine tourism business:
Hello Jay! So inform us, how did you first get into diving?
How I received into diving is a little bit of an extended story, however I feel it actually highlights how a passionate dive teacher can utterly change somebody’s life.
I first tried scuba diving in St Lucia round 2006 by way of a DSD fashion expertise on the lodge I used to be staying at and it was, properly, horrible. Later once I turned an Teacher I noticed that the store had violated just about each primary normal for a DSD expertise. From having one teacher for nearly 20 DSD college students, to non-existent security protocols and even educating how the gear works. My main reminiscence from the day was considering “Wow, that’s a reasonably fish” whereas on the similar time considering “I’m going to die!”. The expertise pushed me away from ever eager to do something within the ocean once more. I didn’t even need to swim or snorkel after that.
Quick ahead a couple of years forward. Whereas in Lanzarote I met a PADI Teacher that I might randomly trade greetings with each morning on my stroll into city. He would joke with me saying I ought to attempt diving and I might be like “You’re out of your thoughts”. One morning we chatted a bit about what had occurred in St Lucia and a few how he satisfied me to attempt diving once more. That course with him would flip my insane worry right into a loopy love for the ocean. His endurance as an teacher and keenness for the ocean utterly modified my viewpoints on so many various ranges.
I might go on to complete my Open Water certification then dive continuous for the remaining of the journey. I used to be hooked. Once I obtained again to London I linked up with an superior store that had a group of some actually unimaginable people and began UK diving just about each probability I might. I did round 300 dives in simply the primary yr after getting licensed. I used to be addicted. However the actuality is that if it wasn’t for these extremely passionate instructors in each Lanzarote and London, I in all probability would have by no means ended up the individual I'm now.
I like to inform this story to my Divemaster and Teacher college students to attempt to present them how a lot impression they will have on their college students and why it’s so essential to convey their greatest to work on a regular basis and why our focus as dive execs shouldn't simply be to show, however to additionally encourage our college students.
What a strong story. It simply exhibits the large impression a dive professional can have on one other life! What has your diving expertise been since then?
Expertise sensible, I’ve labored in all types of circumstances. From freezing chilly, zero viz UK diving to lovely heat water reefs, to deep wrecks, cave diving, tec diving, exploration (ocean & cave), offshore/blue water diving, working with apex predators, analysis tasks, conservation tasks, creating logistics for documentaries and so forth… I’ve taught all ranges of diving from Uncover Scuba Diving via to Teacher, MSDT, and Trimix diving. Today I primarily train sidemount, technical diving, conservation programs, and underwater images whereas additionally mentoring our Divemaster and Teacher college students at Dive Ninjas. Outdoors of educating my main duties are designing new expeditions and experiences for our friends in addition to creating partnerships for brand spanking new conservation and analysis tasks.
Why is saving the ocean necessary to you?
Our planet’s oceans are important for not solely our existence however just about all life on earth. Greater than 50% of the oxygen we breath is produced within the ocean and they're residence to upwards of 80% of all life on earth. They take in 25% of all of the carbon dioxide people create and retailer 90% of the extra warmth brought on by international warming. It’s fairly easy, with out wholesome oceans we people not exist.
However past this there's a lot extra we're nonetheless discovering concerning the oceans each day. Over 10,000 compounds have been extracted from marine environments which play essential roles in drugs, remedies, and biomedical analysis – and it’s estimated that as much as 90% of species within the ocean are nonetheless awaiting discovery. That's thoughts blowing to me, but the Marine Protection Atlas exhibits lower than 7% of our world’s oceans are protected, and solely 2.7% are extremely protected. How can one thing so worthwhile to our existence have such a small degree of safety? It’s thoughts boggling.
Which space of marine conservation are you most enthusiastic about?
It’s actually onerous for me to slender down only one. I’m very keen about using images as a strategy to present individuals how exceptional our oceans are and why they need to need to battle to guard them. However my passions span throughout a number of arenas of marine conservation together with sharks, rays, whales, and sea turtles; in addition to human impacts on the oceans and their inhabitants reminiscent of overfishing and marine particles. With Dive Ninja Expeditions my focus is centered round ecotourism and environmental schooling. I discover the sustainable and eco tourism strategy to conservation very fascinating and consider it’s a really viable approach to encourage extra individuals to take motion.
For instance, it’s estimated international coral reef tourism alone generates upwards of $36 billion USD yearly – and that's an ecosystem that makes up lower than 1% of the ocean flooring. Think about if we might discover a approach to faucet into even a small fraction of this income to additional marine analysis and conservation efforts? That is simply one of many concepts that we try to set for instance with Dive Ninjas by displaying that a enterprise might easily donate a portion of their revenue to assist fund the safety of the marine life and ecosystems that make our excursions and experiences potential. With a few of our tasks we're donating as much as 50% of income to native analysis and conservation organizations in hopes that others will see what is feasible and start creating their very own packages to do the identical of their space. This manner not solely are you educating your visitors or college students concerning the ocean and the way they will become involved in defending it, but in addition instantly creating constructive impacts on native ecosystems and furthering marine analysis.
How would you describe Dive Ninja’s angle to marine conservation?
Marine conservation and analysis is the guts and soul of Dive Ninja Expeditions. It isn't simply one thing our whole group could be very captivated with, however truly intertwined into every thing we do. Our imaginative and prescient from the beginning was to create a platform that would work to bridge the gaps between tourism, science, and conservation – and now 4 years later this nonetheless continues to be our main focus and what retains us pushing ahead. I needed to attempt to create one thing totally different – principally a approach that tourism could possibly be utilized to guard the exceptional creatures that drive so many people to the ocean each day.
You'll find extra information about our conservation efforts right here: https://www.diveninjaexpeditions.com/marine-conservation-ecotourism/
What lead you to create the Whale Defender Speciality Course?
I used to be engaged on a undertaking with Sea Shepherd and marine mammal scientists Mario A. Escalara and Maria Laura Marcias taking a look at potential methods to raised shield the humpback whale inhabitants that visits Cabo San Lucas each winter. One of many tasks we designed was a whale watching ecotourism expertise that aimed to show the friends into citizen scientists in addition to environmental watchdogs for a day.
Primarily, the friends would study from native marine mammal scientists in addition to to look out for, and assist doc, dangerous practices and threats to whales they see through the tour. The Whale Defender course was born out of this program. We had a number of friends asking how they might study extra about whale conservation and realized the there wasn’t any sort of comparable course out there. We weren’t actually positive find out how to even strategy the thought, however after an inspiring speak with Jack Fishman at Project AWARE I had a transparent concept of not solely easy methods to do it, however what we needed to obtain with it. So Mario, Maria, and myself set to work writing & designing the Whale Defender course.
The idea of PADI Distinctive Specialties has actually opened up a brand new alternative for us to additional prolong our attain and encourage much more divers to become involved in defending our ocean planet. I’m presently engaged on two extra conservation targeted distinctive specialties with some actually unimaginable and passionate people, comparable to Dr Frida Lara, Liz Parkinson, Marta Palacios and Ellen Myers. One course is about Apex Predators and the opposite is on Mobula Ray conservation.
Superb! So what does the course truly entail? Do you get out on the water to see the whales? Are there any pre-requisites?
The course explores the complicated intertwined historical past of people and whales, in addition to why whales are necessary for wholesome oceans, the threats they're presently dealing with – like fishing gear entanglement and boat strikes from unregulated tourism – and how one can assist shield these unimaginable ocean giants. You’ll study whale biology and evolution in addition to citizen science tasks you will get concerned in proper now. The course is a half day and 100% of the income assist fund higher marine park enforcement and localized whale conservation efforts.
If visitors are in Los Cabos through the whale season (December to April) they will obtain a particular package deal that features the course and whale watching. Or the course can be added on to our Gentle Giants Expeditions to see a number of the different unimaginable titans of the ocean that go to the waters round Baja California Sur. To guide the course or mixed instructional expedition, book here or contact Dive Ninjas.
In case you might ask the Torchbearer group to take one motion, what wouldn't it be?
I might inform them to take a second to recollect what first captivated them concerning the ocean and ignited that spark of marvel and love inside them. Maintain that reminiscence for a second and keep in mind what it felt like. Now, go take one step proper now to guard that animal or ecosystem that made it potential. It doesn’t matter how huge or small, what issues is that you simply take that first step and start defending what you're keen on in order that many extra generations can expertise that very same feeling you are feeling proper now.