TIDES In Grand Cayman

Ocean First   Jul 01, 2022

There are 16 new divers in the world, each one excited for more underwater adventures. Congratulations are in order for the latest TIDES I graduates from Kent Denver School, who recently returned from Grand Cayman. Having recently completed their open water scuba certification with the help of Ocean Frontiers, these intrepid new divers are ready to explore the sea. While not their first time on a plane or in a boat, for all, it was their first time breathing underwater; the excitement they felt was clear in their faces, even when the water wasn't.

From mask clearings and regulator retrievals to tired diver tows and air-sharing ascents, these middle school students (and one teacher) were ready to welcome the challenges of open-water scuba diving. After months of classroom study, days training in the pool, and two days of certification dives in a protected bay, these newly certified divers were ready to take on the open ocean. Pufferfish, trumpetfish, spiny lobsters, cleaner shrimp, and even a Caribbean reef shark were welcome sights as the students applied all of the knowledge, skills, and abilities they had studied leading to this moment.

What might sound like "just" a fun scuba vacation, it was really so much more than that for these middle school students. Each now has the opportunity to continue their underwater explorations via subsequent years in the TIDES program. Applying their dive acumen and gathering data capabilities to improve the scientific communities' understanding of shark ecology, they will engineer and use laser photogrammetry devices to measure sharks throughout the Caribbean. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in The Nature Conservancy's coral restoration project in St. Croix, among other scientifically relevant and globally necessary marine research projects.

Working with these students is energizing. Their excitement is contagious. Knowing that the future health of the ocean is in their hands is comforting. Bring on the next class!