In the middle of the Scottish winter, I was invited to a meeting to prepare applications for a conference. The meeting would take place at 9am sharp. Anyone who has lived that far north in December knows that venturing out at that time, before the sun, is only for the brave (and big coat-owning). Having arrived, I was told that this was a test to bring out the most committed, albeit to reefs in tropical climes not Edinburgh slush.

We were invited to develop ideas for projects that help tackle an environmental issue. Just before this meeting, I had spent several weeks writing about the life of a very old green sea turtle called Brian and coming to terms with the damage I might have done as a Divemaster. With Brian and his reef front and centre, these ruminations came together in a light bulb moment. I decided in this 9am meeting that I wanted dive guides to have more access to skills that will help them protect coral reefs than I did and a course was needed to forward that aim.

I’m not someone who usually raises their hand. I don’t answer questions in crowded lecture theatres, or volunteer to read my work aloud. But, by the end of explaining the idea to my class, I had stood up with excitement. Luckily I was no longer studying Classics and this kind of enthusiasm is far more acceptable when trying to save the planet than reciting Latin translations.

Reef-World had already come to the same conclusion – albeit with far more experience, resources and potentially less wild gesticulation. I was encouraged to find partners for this conference so, having researched their work, I sent out an email asking for help. A few Skype calls later and the idea had become the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course.

IMG_5608.jpg

The first task was writing it and, from my side, this went fairly smoothly. I was aiming for something that is accessible, interesting but also practical enough to have an impact in the real world. There were a few reviews, additions and Slack polls (eCourse, e-course or E-course?) and we had a first draft.

Then we started testing, with both a proofreading and specialist round. My pride took a little battering with the typos that came back and there were a few changes to be made but this was accounted for in the development schedule and we had plenty of time to manage the editing. This is exactly why we test! As different challenges cropped up, I soon learnt the value of adaptability when working in several time zones, in different languages.

The last stage was planning the launch of the course. I was very keen to show off what we have accomplished. I had to translate this fervour into manageable, logical steps for promotion. My previous promotions experience mostly involved standing in the street and starting conversations with strangers, so this was a good step up and I’m pleased to say that I won’t have to accost anyone on their way to work to get our message across.

The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course platform is provided by PSS    (Professional Scuba Schools)    and supported by the UN Environment

The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course platform is provided by PSS (Professional Scuba Schools) and supported by the UN Environment

Overall, it has been a very rewarding and efficient process and we’ve created something that I think will make a big difference. I still can’t quite believe that a project which, for me, started in a snowy Edinburgh lecture theatre has ended helping protect coral reefs all over the world. Now, I’m obviously hoping that the final product will make everyone stand up and wave their arms around like I did in that initial meeting but above all, I can’t wait to see this course help dive professionals protect the reefs where they work. Here’s to being a #GreenFinsGuide!

Green Fins tips to help dive staff manage divers to help prevent damage to coral reefs.