One of our students, Christina, fills us in about Coral Conservation in Cozumel:
After an awesome week of working towards our PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Certification, we put our new diving skills to use in an effort to help the dying coral reefs of Cozumel.
Our day would begin in the classroom with a passionate lecture from our instructor German, starting with what coral is. Coral is a collection of live animal polyps that form together to create the coral. These beautiful works of art only grow 1cm per year but can be destroyed in an instant. Although these lectures were long and usually ended with legs and arms covered in pen tattoos, they made an impression on every single one of us.
The coral needs our help to grow so we took to the water in our scuba gear with scrub brushes in hand. Our first task was the scrub algae and sediments off of concrete platforms that were the homes of small corals. Although this task seemed mundane at the time, we knew we were truly making a positive impact for our oceans.
The next day the lecture focused on what exactly is killing our coral. Especially in recent years the coral reefs have been dying at an unprecedented rate due to a disease that is caused from warm water, sunscreen, and sentiments. In addition, harmful algae covers the reefs which also leads to their death. Due to the strong winds the harbor was closed so we took a pause on the course and returned to our accommodation. At night we walked into the tourist town of Cozumel for Carnival! The huge celebration and parade took over the town. Lights flashed and music was blasting through the streets.
On our last day the waves at the beach were enormous, but 7 brave souls entered the water. For our last dive we scrubbed harmful algae off of live rock and we were able to plant our own baby coral! Everyone successfully made it out of the water and we were all proud of the difference we were making. This concluded our time in Cozumel with German and the Jorge Scuba team. We were all sad to leave but excited for what the next country has to offer! We urge you to look into coral reef conservation and be conscious about your impact in our oceans!
(Christina is part of the group currently travelling on our Central America Spring Semester.)