Nearly two years ago today, I realised that while working as a Divemaster, I may have contributed to coral damage and other harm because I had not been taught how to manage divers in an environmentally-conscious way. I had allowed guests with questionable buoyancy skills to choose dives near delicate reefs and had seen a 100+ year-old turtle (Brian, of Flynn reef) woken with harsh lights. I was horrified and became committed to making sure all dive professionals are aware of how to reduce their impact and that of their guests.

Brian’s distant cousin

Brian’s distant cousin

This realisation became an idea for a course which would teach dive professionals how to mitigate damage to the marine environment. I soon became involved with Reef-World, who were already working on exactly that idea. With the invaluable resources and guidance from the Reef-World team, this internship allows me to continue developing and promoting the course in a way I never thought possible. I am so excited to see it go live and start making a positive impact.

For the first few weeks, I’ve been coming to terms with new systems, rebuilding my relationship with Dropbox (internet speeds in rural Cumbria aren’t forgiving) and arranging Skype meetings. I’m focusing on finishing the development stage of the course before it is tested externally. It is amazing to see it come to life and I cannot wait to see what the first students think. I’ve been patiently waiting for the testing stage to show it to EVERYONE I know. There won’t be a neighbour or their dog who hasn’t seen it when I’m done.

As my internship is remote, I am not only learning subject-specific skills but also how to work in a remote team. It has taken time to get used to online management programs and coordinating different time zones but, overall, I’m so impressed with how well it works. We now have the opportunity to connect across continents to solve problems together and it’s so inspiring. Due to an injury, I was unable to travel to the Philippines but, thanks to technology, we’re getting to a point where you don’t have to be able to haul around tanks, pass Divemaster swim tests or fend off Dengue to contribute to marine conservation.

With increasingly serious threats, we need to act if we are to protect the precious marine environment.  I am so excited and grateful to be part of that action, helping to protect reefs over six thousand miles away with my morning coffee.