After practicing in the pool, the women were finally ready to take their skills for a drive in the open ocean! On the first day, the women revisited some of the basics that they had learned during the pool session, and practiced in the waters of Baung Penyu, our coral conservation site. By the second dive, they were visibly becoming more comfortable in the water. Although they hit a small current and had to grip onto a rope, they remained enthusiastic – and even more so when they encountered sea turtles and colorful fishes swimming around them. After an exhausting couple of days, the women were finally certified divers!
The women were also tasked with photographing different corals and fishes as part of their coral and fish identification specialty course. They then identified the corals and fishes they photographed together in class. They also helped to plant coral onto reef stars, which are structures designed to help restore coral reef ecosystems. They collected baby corals from a nearby site called Bias Tugel, and attached them onto the reef structures.
At the end of their dive training, we were ecstatic to hear how much the women had grown through the program. One group member, Dede, was able to overcome trauma about being in the water. Another, Saras, learned to enjoy the dives despite her seasickness. The women have also grown incredibly close to each other, forming close friendships and feeling united by a shared love of the environment and a mission to save the ocean.