Dive Against Debris activist Liz Parkinson fights to keep Bahamian waters clean

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With temperatures rising during the summer months, many of us are dreaming about jetting off to an island paradise to soak in the sunshine and take a deep dive into crystal-clear waters. But what if your favorite dive sites became littered with debris? Project AWARE’s global network of scuba volunteers is dedicated to preventing that from happening. Through the Adopt a Dive Site initiative, more than 220 dive sites have been “adopted” so far, with more than 1,500 participants across the globe committing to monthly Dive Against Debris surveys to protect underwater areas from marine debris. These efforts, led by dive-center owners, scuba instructors and volunteers, help ensure that our underwater playgrounds — the places we love — remain vibrant and thriving for years to come. This year, Project AWARE is celebrating the individuals behind this incredible effort.

Liz Parkinson
Nassau, Bahamas

Scuba diver since: 2000
Though she did not grow up near the ocean, Liz Parkinson has a natural affinity for the underwater world — with a background in competitive swimming, scuba diving naturally became her next step. After finishing school, Liz moved to the Caribbean, immersing herself in the ocean-centric island lifestyle. She’s been lucky to travel and experience global diversity in numerous underwater environments, but with that exposure has also come an increased awareness of the negative impact caused by humans. Working through Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas as a scuba and free diving instructor, Liz does her best to educate people on the importance of marine conservation. She teaches a variety of courses exploring marine conservation principles and consistently leads volunteers in Dive Against Debris and other ocean-protection activities around the islands.

Favorite dive site?
Being a Bond fan, I would have to say the James Bond Wrecks off New Providence’s south shore is my favorite dive locale. The reef system here surrounding the two shipwrecks — Tears of Allah from Never Say Never Again (1983) and the Vulcan Bomber from Thunderball (1965) — is as vibrant in color as the coral growth on these wrecks. There is a huge diversity of marine life here, and because it is not very deep, the sunlight really makes this a remarkable site!

Why does the New Providence south shore area need to be protected?
As astronaut Scott Kelly showed us from the International Space Station, the beauty of the Bahamas is in its waters. As tourism traffic increases, it is important to help in the preservation of our underwater ecosystem. Consistent Dive Against Debris surveys are a great way to help maintain and protect the health and beauty of the ocean.

Strangest piece of trash found underwater?
How do you adopt a dive site?
I consistently monitor the New Providence south shore area and organize groups to conduct Dive Against Debris surveys monthly. By working closer with our Bahamian Coastal Awareness Committee to limit the use of plastics and other unsustainable products, we will hopefully begin to see a decrease in man-made products finding their way to the ocean.

Alexa Ward

Source: Sport Diver

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