The goal of marine conservation diving program is to provide the Veterans and First Responders continuous opportunities to dive and socialize with fellow Veterans and provide a new duty for them. The loss of duty is one of the biggest things missed by Veterans post service, which usually leads to depression. According to Dr. Carrie Elk, PsyD, Founder of the Elk Institute, Veterans and First Responders are accustomed to constant action and work while they serve, and therefore they need new action or work to make them feel normal. By focusing their energy on marine conservation work, we can provide the Veterans and First Responders with a new job or duty in life they crave and need. Otherwise, they will focus this stored up energy they used to expend on their duty and use it for a bad purpose such as abusing alcohol or recreational drugs.
The oceans are critical to the survival of all life on Earth. They cover 70%, or 139 million square miles, of the Earth's surface and account for 97% of the water on the planet. Through the water cycle process, the oceans waters evaporate and collect high in the atmosphere to form clouds which in turn produces rain to nourish all life on the planet. But this is not the only critical life sustaining function the oceans perform, they are also home to phytoplankton and zooxanthellae algae, which is responsible for creating 60% of the planet's oxygen. But if the algae grow too much, they produce what is called “algae blooms” which are toxic to aquatic life and plants. These algae are kept in a healthy balance by the fish and marine life living in and around coral reefs that feed on it. So, it is important to for there to be a healthy fish and marine life population in and round coral reefs to keep the oceans healthy and producing fresh water and oxygen to sustain life on Earth. To ensure we have healthy marine life population, coral reefs will need to be healthy and abundant enough to provide food and shelter for the fish and marine life. As a matter of fact, coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine life in the ocean and only occupy 0.1% of them. This means that a quarter of all marine life lives in less than .03% of the ocean, and because of this, the coral reefs of the ocean must be protected. Who better to protect the coral reefs and ocean than those who spent their career freeing the oppressed, performing humanitarian missions, and defending the Country and our local communities.
Undersea Warriors’ will perform and assist in scientific research dives, ocean debris cleans up, coral monitoring and transplanting, and lionfish culling work.
Ocean Debris Cleanup: Every year, tons of garbage and plastic debris are deposited into the ocean to leech toxins into the water, harming marine life. The plastic debris is commonly mistaken for food and is swallowed by marine life which blocks their digestive track leading to a slow horrible death.
Coral Monitoring and Transplanting: To gain a proper trajectory of coral reef health scientists need a constant stream of data that they have the resources to collect. By employing the aid of concerned divers, scientists receive invaluable information on coral health, fish populations, water temperature, water pollution, and bleaching levels. Another need Undersea Warriors can provide is assistance in coral farming and transplanting to help reinvigorate coral reefs with new and healthy coral to save the reefs.
Lionfish Culling: Lionfish have large mouths and voracious appetites. This is a lethal combination for an invasive species to have regarding the negative impact on coral reef health. They prey on fish and other marine life that feed on algae in and around coral, keeping it at healthy levels and prevent algae blooms. With very few predators, lionfish populations have skyrocketed, and the delicate marine life balance around coral reefs are negatively impacted. By participating in lionfish culling operations, Undersea Warriors can help return the delicate balance of this ecosystem to its normal levels.
Scientific Research Dives: Researchers need resources to help collect and categorize data for their ocean conservation research projects. Those Undersea Warriors members who can pass the Reef Check conservation course and dive proficiency tests will be allowed to participate. Since Dive Heroes is a member of American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), Dive Heroes will be able to conduct their own research dives or granted reciprocity by other AAUS organizations to assist on their research dives.