ALWAYS DETERMINED TO DIVE DEEPER, my late husband Jacques spent years tinkering with underwater breathing devices. He eventually reached an unprecedented depth of 333 feet and, in 1946, received a patent for the world's first scuba set, known as the Aqualung. The invention allowed him to pursue his passion for exploring the sea once he became captain of the Calypso.
More than 60 years later, scuba diving remains popular: About 40,000 people get certified each month. As a lifelong diver, I can understand why. When you're underwater, there's a sense of freedom you just can't recreate on land; it feels like you're flying. For me, every dive also represents an opportunity to meet new species or explore once-polluted habitats that are now dean. And if done responsibly, diving can actually help protect the oceans. Follow this advice Jacques used to give to me:
Get certified consciously. Classes offered by the National Association of Underwater Instructors (naui.org) and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (padi.com) teach eco-friendly techniques--such as how to maneuver through delicate reefs that can break with one flap of a diver's fin. Once certified, take refresher courses to sharpen your skills.
Volunteer as you view. Doing your part for oceanography is as easy as picking up sunken trash and recycling it on shore. To go one step further, participate in a fish census or monitor the color of coral (a measure of their health) through nonprofits like the Project AWARE Foundation (projectaware.org).
Don't touch or take. When you encounter the sea's unique silhouettes, it's tempting to poke, prod, and pick up something. But even the smallest shell or seemingly forgotten sponge is integral to its ecosystem. Leave everything behind for future divers (including yourself, whenever you return) to behold. --As told to Daniel Mazori
LEARN MORE: For more information about the Cousteau Society or to donate to the Calypso's restoration, go to cousteau.org.
Source Citation:Cousteau, Francine. "Go scuba diving! Become an eyewitness to the sea's splendor--and help protect it for future generations.(Eco Talk)." Natural Health 39.5 (May 2009): 89(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 6 May 2009
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