At a recent conference in Ecuador on November 9, 21 species of shark and rays are now listed under the Appendices of the Convention of Migratory Species, tripling the numbers from before. The new additions includes many pelagics that scuba divers love to see underwater like manta rays, devil rays, hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and silky sharks.
Because of leadership from countries like Egypt, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Fiji and others, all member nations have now agreed to strict protection of all these species. Of course, the listing of these species and commitments made by nations have to be followed by funding and strict enforcement of regulation, but the enlargement of the list is a good first step as it shows that divers voices can be heard and how we spend our tourism money matters.
Put your tourism dollars to work and swim with some of these iconic species under protection. Join Eco Dive Center on our tropical trips in 2015 to the Philippines, Bali, Fiji and the Red Sea. Click here for more information and email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
The name's Drew Stillman and I've lived in and around the ocean my whole life. A native California, I've been snorkeling and skin diving as long as I can remember. Growing up with a father that used to be a scuba instructor himself and a mother that is a certified diver, it was only a matter of time before I joined the club. It was the summer before my 14th birthday, I had done some snorkeling while on vacation with my parents in Hawaii when my father asked if I would like to try scuba diving, up for a challenge and just curious I accepted. It wad like nothing I had ever experienced, frightening, exciting, challenging and relaxing all at the same time. I remember wishing the dive would never end, that somehow I could just stay down here. As soon as we got back to California I enrolled in an open water scuba diver course and was certified as a junior open water diver.
Flash forward 9 years and though I was still a ocean baby at heart, with school, jobs family, friends and life scuba had taken a back seat. Even after achieving a BA in Digital Media and freelancing add a graphic artist and designer there seemed to be something missing. Another 4 years go by when a trip to my parents in the spring changed the direction for everything. A photograph from my childhood, blurry and out of focus as it was, my father and I in the water with the widest smile I'd seen on my face in a long time. Suddenly remembering the feeling, the weightlessness and how everything was new, scuba diving is like seeing the world through new eyes, and I wanted to capture that feeling once again. The advanced diver course at Eco Dive Center was the start of my journey back to that place, in search of that feeling.
Soon affer completing my advanced course I found myself hooked. The more I dove, the more I remembered about how much I loved the sport as well as cultivating my love for the environment, both above and below sea level. I couldn't stop, and before I knew it I had gone from advanced, to rescue to Divemaster. I love the community and culture of diving, what it represents and the great people that are involved in it, and that's what I want others to experience from it as well. Coaching, helping others to explore and expand their knowledge not only of our oceans and environments, but how we as individuals interact and learn from it as well. That's what drove me to be an instructor. To open up the world and your mind.
Gretchen M. Ashton, CFT, SFT, SFN, NBFE , is registered with the National Board of Fitness Examiners, is an International Sports Sciences Association Elite Trainer; personal trainer, specialist in fitness therapy, specialist in fitness nutrition, and a world champion athlete. Gretchen is founder of ScubaFit LLC, developed the Comprehensive FitDiver ® program, is an advanced scuba diver, nitrox diver, and co-author of the ScubaFit ® Diver Course. She is an Expert Speaker for Los Angeles County Scuba Advanced Diver Program and Underwater Instructor Certification Course. Gretchen is Fitness Editor and/or contributor for California Diver Magazine, World's Best Dives, DiverWire, X-Ray Mag, and Scuba Sport Magazine, has been published in Alert Diver United States and Asia-Pacific, at Divetime.com, is an author at ScubaBoard, and a Scuba Fitness Examiner at Examiner.com. Gretchen has appeared on Scuba Radio, Dive Zone Radio, presented at Scuba Shows, has been a guest at dive medicine conferences, was featured in the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports newsletter for inspiring and innovative accomplishments in fitness, and in the Margaritaville Key West website culinary column. As an athlete she set 21 World and Americans records and is the second woman inducted into the AAU Power Lifting Hall of Fame.