August was a busy month of SCUBA dive training for the participants of the Kidz at Sea SXM Coastal CleanUp Project.
The second group of participants spent the month of August doing their two final dives of the PADI Basic Open Water course after which they completed their final exam. The first dive was the Long Bay Reef dive site where they completed the required training skill and then got to spend some time swimming with the fish. The second dive site was The Bridge off Simpson Bay. This site comprises the original Simpson Bay bridge as well as several boat wrecks sunk to become a dive site.
After the Basic Open Water course, 8 participants went on to complete their PADI Advanced Open Water course which comprises 5 different training dives including Deep, Navigation, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Wreck and a Night dive.
The students were lucky to see lots of marine wildlife such as a sea turtle, many lobsters, a large ray, as well as a big blacktip reef shark. These animals all contribute to a healthy ecosystem both below and above the water, which is one of the reasons that this project exists and is part of R4CR’s rebuilding of a stronger and cleaner Sint Maarten under its Trust Fund (administered by VNGI, and overseen by The World Bank).
By teaching a team of local youth how to dive and perform underwater cleanups, we can maintain a clean environment free of hurricane debris and litter so that our marine life, as well as our population, can enjoy the beautiful natural habitat that our island has to offer.
The SXM Coastal CleanUp project is made possible with the help of several dive shops on the island. The Basic Open Water dives were hosted by dive shop Dive Adventures (at Simpson Bay Resort), whereas the Advanced Open Water training was hosted by Ocean Explorers Dive Center (on Kim Sha Beach).
This month the SXM Coastal CleanUp team will continue to train their underwater skills in the PADI Search & Recovery course.