How PADI Connects Scuba Diving With Preserving the Planet
With so much beauty beneath the surface to explore, scuba enthusiasts are, naturally, a conservation-minded bunch, and none more so than members of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, who are deeply invested in raising awareness of ocean conservation and restoration.
“Our vision is to achieve balance between humanity and the ocean,” says PADI. “We will do this by rallying millions of Ocean Torchbearers — a global force for good that can be mobilized to restore ocean health and support our coastal communities around the world.”
The global diving organization is sounding a clarion call to the public to join them in their noble efforts, because the statistics surrounding ocean conservation are shocking — and climate change is largely to blame.
According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperature of the world’s sea surface has risen 1.3 C over the past century, endangering marine ecosystems beneath the surface like coral reefs, which have literally lost their vibrant color en masse due to mass bleaching events. Sea levels are rising. The very chemistry of the seas and oceans has changed. It’s more acidic — and is a less-than-favorable environment for sea creatures to thrive — due to mankind’s harmful pollution. Seagrasses and mangroves are receding rapidly, at a rate of two football fields per hour, according to a PADI blog.
“It will take all of us working together, united by our passion and armed with a clear plan of action, to turn the dial toward a healthy future for people and planet,” adds PADI.
The organization's current campaigns are many and include Green Fins, which concentrates on preserving coral reefs; an initiative to restore blue carbon ecosystems like tidal and salt marshes; a drive to cultivate underwater vegetation in partnership with The Ocean Foundation’s SeaGrass Grow Program; Dive Against Debris, the largest citizen science movement in the world; and protecting sharks in conjunction with CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.
“Divers are a unique and critical voice for the ocean,” says PADI. “No matter who or where you are (even whether you dive or not!), you have a valuable role to play, and your voice matters.”
PADI’s 30x30 Goal: Protect 30% of the Ocean by 2030
About 71% of Earth is covered by water — and PADI is partnering with SeaLegacy, a collective of concerned filmmakers, storytellers, and photographers, to protect 30% of the seas by 2030.
“There is still hope to save the ocean, if we come together and act now,” says PADI. “Partnering with SeaLegacy allows us to amplify the creation of meaningful and actionable steps to protect our blue planet and all life that calls it home.”
This concern and action is nothing new for the diving organization.
“PADI turns 56 this year. During this time, PADI members have made PADI the largest diver training organization on the planet,” says lifelong diver and PADI CEO and President Drew Richardson. “Your leadership and initiative are critical to delivering the brand values across the PADI Pillars of Change.
“By harnessing the power of the PADI brand as a force for good that connects people, together we foster an engaged and resilient global community of divers. PADI has always been proud of our deeper purpose and the role we play in making the world a better place.”
That 30% goal can have a meaningful impact, PADI informs, in restoring the health of waterways. It will reverse existing damage, sustain ecosystems, impact resilience to climate change, assist wildlife habitats, and restore the health and well-being of the ocean.
“It is clear that we need more ocean protection,” says PADI. “Therefore, SeaLegacy and PADI launched a joint 30×30 campaign to generate immediate, positive action for our ocean. Additionally, this collaboration aims to inspire, support, and create meaningful change around the globe to meet this important and audacious objective. Furthermore, it will be a multiyear alliance that kicks off with a grassroots campaign and global petition.”
The scuba diving giant’s blog shares opportunities for everyone to do their part, like signing the PADI x SeaLegacy 30×30 petition, which will challenge world leaders to increase ocean protection before the turn of the decade. To date, the organization has received over 27,000 signatures with a goal of hitting 50,000.
Partnerships Key in Ocean Protection
PADI, with a global network of more than 6,600 dive centers and resorts worldwide, knows no one can complete a task as monumental as preserving the ocean alone, which is why partnerships are so vital to the mission.
Along with the PADI AWARE Foundation and The Ocean Cleanup, PADI is pioneering a program “to inform ocean-friendly waste management policies in countries worldwide through data collection.”
First and foremost on the front lines are diver members. More than 2 million pieces of debris have been removed from the ocean thanks to PADI’s Torchbearers, according to Richardson. And that work also led to assisting more than 10,000 entangled marine animals, the organization says.
Watchermaker Seiko and PADI have teamed up with the global dive community to deliver vital survey data to be used by marine researchers and policymakers for conservation efforts.
PADI is also involved with The Ocean Foundation's SeaGrass Grow program to enable dive adventures that conserve seagrass and mangroves and come with low or no carbon footprint.
PADI states that scientists estimate a seagrass meadow equivalent to the size of a soccer field is lost every 20 minutes; the organization says this is due to travel-associated carbon emissions. The Ocean Foundation ramped up efforts to provide disaster relief and community support to Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Florida after they were impacted by 2022’s Hurricane Ian.
Richardson says as people continue to connect to the ocean, the idea of saving the waters becomes second nature.
“As a PADI member, you make a difference every day,” says Richardson. “You have the power and influence to inspire possibilities and create life-changing opportunities for countless people, a truly empowering and honorable purpose behind why we dive.”