Sponsored by SEIKO, Scuba Diving’s Sea Heroes Awards recognize undersea activists who are on the front lines of ocean and marine-life conservation. They’re everyday divers who make an extraordinary difference, and inspire the rest of us with their compassion and dedication.
YEAR DIVE CERTIFIED: 1975
AGE WHEN CERTIFIED: 20
DIVE CERTIFICATION LEVEL: PADI Rescue Diver
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "If all you see when you look at the sea is nothing more than a mere blue horizon line, while you may find solace is its expanse, you have no idea of the complexity of the life cycles that abound and flourish below. Perhaps there is something to be witnessed, something to be learned, by us, their neighbors above."
We share the planet with this water world that covers 72 percent of Earth, and produces 50 percent of the oxygen. As we evolve our global intellect, shouldn’t we all clearly understand what impact ocean acidification has on the tiniest of creatures at the beginning of the food chain? More importantly, what control do we have in reducing that impact? The air we breathe depends on it.
What harm can carbon emissions do to our little friends? In short, plankton consumes carbon dioxide and, together with sunlight, photosynthesizes, creating its bi-product, oxygen. When there are abnormally high levels of carbon emissions in the ocean from runoff from cities—such as from the oil from your car—the additional carbon is absorbed into the shells of plankton and phytoplankton. This disrupts their ability to grow properly. The thinning of their shells lowers their ability to produce oxygen at the same levels as they have for millions of years. They are also the main food source for smaller animals that are eaten by larger animals, and so on up the food chain.
Besides the fact that the black-water realm is just chock-full of some of the coolest creatures we’ve ever seen, it has opened an entirely new substrate of underwater photography. Scientists have joined our mission through Facebook pages and are having a field day with data we are providing, just from our photos—how cool is this? We are overcoming barriers to underwater discovery through photography, joining citizens, scientists and photographers to bridge the gaps and unilaterally evolve the understanding of our world underwater to protect our natural resources.