British Columbians treasure our coast, but most people’s knowledge of the ocean stops at the surface. What is less well known is that B.C. waters are among the most ecologically productive on Earth and are home to a vast diversity and abundance of marine life.
In March, dozens of people got to spend some time underwater for the first time thanks to a 24-hour Scuba relay hosted by the UVic Scuba Club. Better yet, the event raised nearly $4,000 for Dogwood’s No Tankers campaign to keep B.C. waters free from the threat of oil supertankers and oil spills.
“Once they have experienced Scuba diving first hand, their concern for the marine environment becomes a passion, which is why supporting the No Tankers campaign was a logical choice for our club members,” explains Tyler Preston, president of the UVic Scuba Club.
The group’s substantial generosity is testament to the depth of feelings on campus about the urgency of the threat oil tankers pose to the future health and prosperity of B.C. Participants collected pledges for their time underwater, which was spent taking part in buoyancy challenges, pool poker, a dance party and even underwater movies. Instructors with the club volunteered their time and skills to offer “pay-what-you-can” introductory scuba classes.
The Scuba Club partnered with the Ocean Students Society, which offered a series of seminars and films highlighting ocean research being undertaken at University of Victoria and the serious environmental challenges facing our oceans. The event combined action, awareness and fun all directed towards making positive change.
Preston, who studies environmental psychology, knows the importance of experience in shaping our views. “I’m a firm believer that getting people underwater helps them to take care of the ocean,” he says. Divers have a visceral fear of the impact that even a “minor” spill would have and for these young divers their ocean experience propels them to take a stand against oil tankers.
Dogwood Initiative is grateful for the support we receive from campuses across B.C. and for the very special efforts made by the divers of the UVic Scuba Club.
UVic Scuba Club has prepared this video celebrating the 24-hour Relay.