Every summer, Sea Dwellers Dive Center hosts a couple Divemaster Interns. During this time, usually around 3 months or so, these interns earn their certifications while working with us… a type of “symbiotic relationship” if you will. It usually works out well, we get extra help during our busy time, and the Interns scuba dive a lot, earn their certs, and have a pretty good time hanging in Key Largo. This year, we’ve been lucky to work with Jacob in this capacity. Jacob has been quite the asset for us, he works hard, and is a pleasure to be around. we knew Jacob prior to his internship, like many of the Interns we get, so it was not a surprise that he was going to be one of the great ones!
Jacob has had an interesting relationship scuba diving the Florida Keys over the last 8-9 years. And he was involved with a pretty amazing High School Project on reef coral ecology which involved many visits to the Keys, and much Key Largo scuba diving! I’ll let him tell the story, one I think those who love scuba diving Key Largo will appreciate!
“In eighth grade I wrote an essay for the chance to win an opportunity to come down to south Florida on a school-run marine biology trip to scuba dive and study the unique subtropical ecosystem here in the Florida Keys. For someone born and raised in Westchester County, New York, it was an incredible experience to explore this unfamiliar environment. Additionally, I became more aware of the environmental issues and concerns in this region. Where I grew up, we did not have daily reminders of environmental damage and its ripple effects, so I wasn’t truly aware of how serious it can be.
After that first trip in 8th grade, I made it into a yearly endeavor that greatly expanded my knowledge of the local reef environment. In my sophomore year of high school, I chose to take join a 3-year science research course where I had to develop my own science experiment with an original hypothesis. The same year on the marine biology trip to the Keys, we added a day working with the Coral Restoration Foundation to the curriculum. On each of our trips, a group of 10 to 15 of students worked with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) in the water to help prepare, restore, and outplant, or directly place Acropora cervicornis coral fragments onto reefs. I was not only able to dive down and attach coral fragments to restoration structures, I also got the opportunity to scrape algae off the reefs, attach blue play-doh like epoxy, and meticulously put coral fragments into place so they could thrive in the wild. Each experience enhanced my interest in the ocean and our recognition of the seemingly endless list of negative impacts on the reefs: rising ocean temperatures, pollution, disease, and bleaching. The reality is clear. The reefs have become so degraded that they currently cannot recuperate without human intervention.
If I had not visited the Keys and learned about the current environmental crisis here, I would have never thought about how I could help and started the journey that led me here today. Learning about the problem and its possible solutions helped me to choose coral growth and restoration as my research topic in high school. As I presented my project at several symposiums and explained it to various people I was constantly educating people that are not directly affected by these problems about what’s happening to the reefs.
On all of our marine biology trips we always dove with Sea Dwellers Dive Center, where environmental conservation is stressed in every dive briefing. In May of this year I left my hometown of Croton-on-Hudson, New York to spend the summer first as an intern as I worked towards my Divemaster certification and then as an employee working as a Divemaster on the boat. In both of these positions, I am able to constantly educate people about what affects our reef ecosystem and why we need to change our lifestyles to conserve the places we love to dive.”
Jacob was one of the best Divemaster Interns we’ve had in the almost 22 years at Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo. We had a great summer, one of the busiest we’ve had in years. We all worked extra hard, engaged in much Key Largo diving, and got to know our new Divemaster and friend, Jacob. Thanks for everything Jacob!
Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo
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