Saving the Reefs in Key Largo. A Divemaster’s Perspective.

Divemaster Natalie at Sea Dwellers Dive Center
Divemaster Natalie

In the end we will only conserve what we love…”

-Baba Dioum

I graduated from Denison University in Ohio with a degree in biology and environmental studies. Before attending graduate school for marine conservation, I wanted to take some time off and gain experience, so I moved down to the sunny Florida Keys to be by the ocean and focus on the marine environment.  Not to mention….to go scuba diving!  I had always heard that Florida Keys diving is the best in the states,  and in particular, in Key Largo, known as the “Dive Capital of America”.   Since moving down here, I have had the opportunity to witness Florida’s environment changing; from working/diving with Sea Dwellers Dive Center, to volunteering in the Everglades, this is truly a unique destination with a huge amount of biodiversity.

With the recent release of Chasing Coral on Netflix, coral reefs have never been such a hot button topic. Watching the coral bleaching events they recorded on the Great Barrier Reef and the rapid degradation of fish life in that ecosystem is heartbreaking. This documentary is informative as it shows the viewer the rapid changes that reefs are undergoing, but it focuses in only one area of the world. So what about the reefs of the Florida Keys?

In recent history, coral reefs have been faced with large scale bleaching due to warmer water temperatures and ocean acidification. In Chasing Coral you are shown a rapid bleaching event, but it doesn’t always happen that quickly. In the Keys, we have faced a few bleaching events and the reefs are not thriving as they once were even five years ago. The reefs are still abundant with marine life and are gorgeous to dive, but there are a lot more white corals and algae covered corals appearing on our reefs.  The reefs are changing.

The vast majority of scientists agree, the decline of coral reefs globally is unarguably driven by humans. The rapid rate at which these events are occurring make it hard forKey Largo diving on the reef some corals to evolve to these changes and this is one of the main reason we are seeing these massive coral die outs. Scientists have already identified the issues and have proposed solutions to these problems years ago, however, getting widespread change has only started to become more pressing as the world is realizing what climate change is affecting.

Widespread change will not begin to happen until individuals start to make changes in their daily lives.


Things you can do to help reduce your footprint and stave off climate change to help our Reefs in Key Largo survive;

  1. Buy a reusable water bottle! Plastics are one of the main marine pollutants and are responsible for killing many marine organisms every year.
  2. Use reusable grocery bags. Going along with the plastic theme, less is best! Plus, most grocery stores will take a small amount of money off your bill for bringing your own bags.
  3. Car pool, ride bikes, use public transportation. The emissions from cars are one of the greenhouses gases responsible for climate change.
  4. Eat less meat. You don’t need to cut it out of your diet completely, but factory farms are one of the main sources that greenhouse gases are emitted from, and billions of gallons of water are used to keep a farm running. One hamburger is the equivalent of someone taking 32 showers, so the less meat you consume, less water will be used and the stress on the environment will be lessened.
  5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But mostly reduce. Many people have begun to recycle both at home and at work, which is wonderful! But out of the three r’s, the least you can do is recycle. The best thing to do is reduce your consumption of goods. Less plastics purchased means less plastics that need to be produced!
  6. Be a responsible boater. This means making sure you don’t anchor on a reef or ground your boat on a reef.
  7. Be a responsible fisherman. With the return of mini season upon us for lobsters, it is important to remember that while it is exciting to find and catch lobster, be mindful of what you’re touching and standing on when you’re looking. Touching coral can hurt or kill it, and breaking pieces off because you were trying to catch a lobster isn’t benefitting anything. Additionally, that means not fishing in sanctuaries, out of season, bringing in undersize fish/lobster, and adhering to the guidelines for your local area.
  8. Dive with a Blue Star Operator. Boats and dive shops that are blue star operators have made a commitment to protect and educate about coral reef conservation. Sea Dwellers is a Blue Star Operator 
  9. Be a responsible diver. This means not touching the reef, not standing on the reef, and keeping all your gauges and consoles from dangling below you. As a diver you are mainly down there as an observer, which means not touching or chasing the wildlife.
  10. Don’t fly first class. Flying emits a lot of greenhouse gases into the environment and contributes to about 5% of warming annually. This number will continue to increase every year as air travel becomes more popular. So, don’t fly first class. The larger seats and extra room means that there are less people that can be on one flight, so each individual on that flight has a larger carbon footprint in turn.
  11. Contribute to the CRF – The Coral Restoration Foundation is doing amazing things cultivating, growing, and transplanting corals onto existing reefs and also new areas that are deemed able to start a new reef.  Direct action at it’s best!

Another great piece of news is that with the growth and popularity of scuba diving in the last 15 years, more people are Abundant marine life on these Key Largo dive sites!seeing firsthand the effects of climate change. This means that more people will care about these bleaching events and die offs and more people will want to do their part to help prevent more bleaching events. As Baba Dioum said, “In the end we will conserve only what we love…” and I believe that to be true, so if you aren’t a scuba diver, there is another reason to become certified. As a diver, you will want to protect your favorite dive spots and return year after year and if anything changes hopefully see new growth. For more information, see this link to the NRDC website. 

Together we can make a difference, the marine life you see on your next dive will appreciate it!

 

Divemaster NatalieSea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo

2017 Reunion Weekend! – Great Diving in Key Largo!

Great Friends, Great Diving, & Great Fun In Key Largo – Sea Dweller’s Reunion Weekend

Key Largo reunion Dive Weekend

After a turbulent month or 2 in Key Largo, we were happy to host our 11th Annual Key Largo Reunion Weekend Dive Event this weekend.  It was a full house, and the weather and Dive conditions were spectacular we’re happy to say!  We knew we were in luck when we woke up on Thursday to clear blue skies and a light northerly wind, perfect for scuba diving Key Largo reefs and wrecks!

For those who are not aware, we have been hosting this Key Largo Dive event for 11 years now, and it’s geared for our wonderful customers who have been diving with Sea Dwellers before…some diving with us for decades we’re happy to say!  Many participants return year after year for this event, and have become not just customers, but friends of management and staff.  Our staff has come to enjoy the event greatly over the years and we’re always happy to welcome back the divers we’ve come to know and love for this weekend of eating, playing, scuba diving and great camaraderie!
Dive the Florida Keys!
The Diving conditions, once again, were very good!  Blue water and lots of sunshine enabled us to get some amazing diving in over the weekend. it was a “turtle weekend” for sure…can’t remember seeing this many in awhile for some reason!  Also many Reef Sharks were sited each day, 3-5 foot range in Diving is great in the Florida Keys! size and very curious of the divers, enabling us to get a close look at these beautiful creatures!

Diving key Largo with Turtles!

The entire Key Largo diving weekend was wonderful!  3 days of diving including a 3-location dive trip, a Champagne Sunset Cruise, Saturday night Costume Party and lots of good times!   A special thanks to everyone who was able to attend this year’s Reunion dive event, and to those who couldn’t make it this year, you were missed by all and we hope to be diving with you at next years Reunion Weekend!

– Your Sea Dwellers’ Dive Center Staff

Scuba diving together in Key Largo

Key largo costume partyHaving fun in the Florida Keys!

Why Advance Your Scuba Knowledge?


Advancing your Scuba Diving Education

by Divemaster NatalieDivemaster Natalie at Sea Dwellers Dive Center

So you’re a certified diver and you’ve been diving for awhile now. You you love to dive so you’re thinking, “what’s next?”

How about increasing your knowledge and abilities in the water?  If you’re considering advancing your education in scuba diving, or if you aren’t sure why you should there’s a few excellent reasons to continue your learning;

  1. Comfort and Buoyancy Advanced Scuba Diving in Key Largo

The more you practice your buoyancy, the better you’ll get! And trust me, you can be controlling your buoyancy by your breathing just like your instructor in little time! Buoyancy seems really hard and awkward when you’re first learning to dive, but just like with anything, the more you practice the easier it gets. And once you have buoyancy down, you’re able to be a lot more comfortable in the water.

  1. Knowing your dive gear

Typically, as you progress in your diving, you tend to acquire your own gear and figure out what you like. This is important as it goes hand in hand with your comfort level in the water. The more dives you have with a certain type or BCD or regulator will not only help you get used to how that gear should feel but also how it works. One of my favorite parts of continuing my dive education was actually learning how the gear functions and where and what can go wrong. By having this deeper knowledge of the gear and its function, I am more comfortable in the water and figuring out solutions if something seems wrong.

PADI scuba diving

  1. With knowledge comes problem solving

Advancing your education is a great way to explore new and different types of diving and learn how to be a better diver. When I took my Rescue Diver course, I learned a lot about the science of how diving affects our bodies, which is very important to understand. In addition, advanced courses are able to get more into detail about the very broad information you’re given in your open water course. Because you get into more detail about functionality of gear, effects of pressure on a body, and stress and response, you in turn become not only more comfortable with your equipment, but you learn how to improvise should you need to.

  1. New techniques and dive locations

There are so many different paths you can take in diving that continuing your education could simply mean opening up new locations or Scuba diving advancedtypes of diving. If you’re really interested in photography, you can pursue the underwater photography specialty. If you really want to try ice dives you can get dry suit certified. If you’ve always wanted to explore underwater caves there’s a specialty for that too! Continuing your education is a great tool to see something new or different if you’re starting to feel like you need something new. And by the way, scuba diving Key Largo reefs and wrecks offers divers plenty of material to photograph with our great marine life!!

  1. More advanced, more scuba diving opportunities

If you’ve ever thought about pursuing a career in the dive industry or a marine related field, having advanced education looks great on resumes. Since getting my advanced dive certifications I have been able to participate in research on the reefs as well as AGGRA coral surveys, biodiversity surveys and removing invasive lionfish off the reefs. I have also gotten a job in the dive industry and has opened up possibilities I couldn’t have received in other fields.

Advanced Adventurer Certification – taking your scuba diving to a higher level!

Advanced Scuba Diver

At Sea Dwellers Dive Center we offer the “Advanced Adventurer Course”, which includes 5 specialties over 3 days of diving.  A deep dive, and a navigation dive are required, and then you get to choose 3 more specialties from a list that includes things like Peak Buoyancy, search & recovery, underwater photography and many more!  Those interested can check this link to our Advanced Diving Course page!

 

Overall, my choice to advance my education has helped me expand my horizons and opportunities in my career in scuba diving and I have met an incredible network of dive professionals and future dive buddies here at Sea Dwellers Dive Center!

Thank you!
Divemaster Natalie

Sea Dwellers Instructor Daniel’s Key Largo Video!

Sea Dwellers’ Instructor Daniel shows us his take on Key Largo diving!  An awesome video that highlights the great and diverse Marine Life scuba divers experience while diving Key Largo!

 

Instructor Daniel in Key Largo
Sea Dwellers Instructor Daniel

All the creatures are here, and most importantly, the Octopus! We’re partial to Octopus, as some of you may know…this one was awesome, don’t you think? Moray eels, turtles, sharks both Nurse & Reef…you name it it can be found on the reefs while scuba diving Key Largo! The marine life in Key Largo is unmatched in the Caribbean, as those who have been diving in the Caribbean know…it’s our little secret!

A big thanks to Daniel, for this awesome video, but also for working with us this Spring! Daniel is a great Instructor, and a great guy, he will be missed! BTW Daniel is now in Hawaii, gonna provide some great Instruction there and enjoy Paradise, Pacific style!   All the best to him and we hope to see him again in Key Largo!

– Your Sea Dwellers Dive Center Staff