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Cristina is a diving instructor for PIDS and has been diving in Koh Phangan for 2 years, but it is not here that it all began for her.
“My passion for diving started 10 years ago as a marine biology student, I wished to see what I was studying, how the sea worked and felt.
From that first dive I knew that I wanted to spend as much of my time as possible in the water, I decided that I would have wanted to be the scientist gathering the samples, rather than the one analysing them in a lab!”
Cristina worked in a marine protected area, doing conservation work for 7 years until she decided to become a PRO diver and came here to Koh Phangan.
“Having the opportunity to teach brand new divers gives me the possibility, every day, to show new people how delicate and fascinating the oceans are, thus contributing to share knowledge and love for the seas!”.
What were some highlights of diving last year? and low points?
The biggest highlight is for sure the massive presence of whale sharks we’ve had in the whole Gulf of Thailand! We’ve been lucky enough to have them around very often, in April/May even for 29 days in a row!
Whale Sharks are so big and elegant that no one can remain indifferent in front of them! On top of that Sail Rock keeps being home to massive schools of fish and seems to be thriving with life, not too damaged yet by climate change or humans!
Less exciting is the amount of trash and nets that everybody is picking up from the water, human waste that is accumulating and will not disappear!
What are the main environmental issues in the ocean for 2018?
Trash is the main issue, I believe not only for this New Year but for the foreseeable future! Unfortunately there still are too many people that do not see or know that all that we produce and consume on land ends up in the ocean, sooner or later, and from there it will never disappear!
We now see more and more documentaries on how degraded some areas are, on how much plastic is floating in the marine currents and how animals and organisms are dying because of all the micro-plastic they ingest with their food.
I believe the Global issue is to realise how easy it would be to produce less trash, using more Eco sustainable products while we all pick up what gets washed ashore, we can’t keep pretending that what we do is not affecting everything around us. We have the tools to destroy this planet, we also have the ones to save it. It is literally up to us.
What issues will affect diving and divers this year?
On top of all the above in terms of trash divers need to understand, now more than ever, that we are a lot and we have an impact, anywhere we dive. We do not belong in the ocean, we are guests and as such we should behave; we should strive to dive properly without interfering with the aquatic life. Do not touch, chase or torment organisms just to show what they do when they get scared, paying attention to our buoyancy to not bump into the reefs and not taking any souvenirs from the seas.
As professionals our goal should be to make sure all divers behave properly, showing and teaching good practices.
What do PIDS do to help?
PIDS is beginning to focus more and more on doing conservation and educational activities open to divers who want to become more aware. Up to now we’ve joined TRASH HERO’s campaigns; participating in beach clean-ups with them and adhering to the free water refill project, rather than buying new plastic bottles of water every time refill yours in any of the business that show the Trash Hero logo, it is free and eco-friendly, couldn’t be any better!
Furthermore we’re partners with Green Fins, an NGO that aims to spread good practices and knowledge to inform citizens about how to treat the oceans and which risks it faces. All our boat detergents are biodegradable and organic and every day we explain a little bit of what we can all do to respect our seas more.
We are also planning some more hands on activities for the near future, to offer more knowledge and information such as workshops, more beach clean ups and possibly encounters on environmental ecology.
What else is being done on the island you know of?
As I mentioned above Trash Hero is on Koh Phangan and Thailand in general doing a great job in promoting clean ups and other activities to try and inform and involve tourists and locals into taking care of the environment.
Furthermore, on the Island we have Core Sea, an environmental organisation that conducts proper monitoring activities, gathering scientific data to evaluate the health of our coasts and protect them, also offering courses and activities to who interested!
What would you say to divers diving in 2018?
Spend as much time as possible under the water and tell everybody what you have seen! Explain to everyone how mesmerizing it is down there! And clearly, learn to respect everything, even the smallest shell!
What do you look forward to this year?
PIDS will be organising more conservation and education oriented activities which is what I am looking forward to! I can’t wait to start working on those projects, hopefully further developing collaborations with the other environmental organisations!
And off course I am very keen for another good year of introducing people to their first underwater bubbles!
And leave us with your 'dive philosophy'...
Respect the oceans as you want your house to be respected! If we know and care for our seas we one day won’t need laws to protect it!