Happy World Oceans Day!

Today, we celebrate all the things that make the ocean special and bring awareness to how we can protect and help our oceans. This goes far beyond recycling. This includes conservation. Conservation of marine life. Conservation of marine habitats. Conservation of marine food sources.

Does recycling help? Absolutely. We put, according to a 2018 USA Today article, 242 million pounds of plastic trash into the oceans annually. We also leave a lot of “stuff” in the ocean. Ocean Defenders Alliance, one of my favorite groups, addresses ghost fishing gear. Follow the link below and check them out. They are absolutely amazing. They came and spoke to our dive club and I was instantly impressed.

https://www.oceandefenders.org/

Another problem, overfishing. Taking more than we need or can consume. No, I’m not saying you need to give up sushi or seafood dinners, I love them too. I am, however, saying be an informed consumer. Be aware of the impact consumption and overfishing can have on the oceans.

Want to learn more? I recommend this article from Environmental Defense Fund. It is straight forward about the main points of the issue:

How can we advocate for the oceans as divers?

First, talk about why you love diving! Did you know that, according to NOAA, 80% of the ocean is unmapped. That means no one has seen it or explored it. 80%! That’s absolutely insane. I view this as an opportunity to talk about how amazing seeing the ocean up close and personal can be. Television does no justice to the majesty of a giant black sea bass swimming by. No documentary can satiate my need for seeing nudibranchs or octopuses. Though, I will watch octopus videos on Instagram all day, every day :)

Next, you can lead by example. As a diver, keeping your skills sharp is one of the best ways you can help. These skills start with your brain: Having and developing a growth mindset.

What is a growth mindset? I’m glad you asked. A growth mindset is believing that your most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. As one of my undergraduate professors described learning, coming to the table with an empty cup. Finally, to quote the M-Fish, “A good diver is always learning and does so best with an open mind”.

As a diver, this means continuing your education. So, you’ve taken every class ever? Have you made a list of your skills in order of strongest to weakest? Have you given that list to a trusted instructor and had them evaluate your skills and help you revise the list?

Maybe it’s time for G.U.E. Fundamentals, lovingly, Fundies.

Maybe it’s time to learn a new configuration.

Whatever that next step is, find it and take it. Conquer it! Make it yours!

As an example: I recently graduated to a backplate and wing configuration. The STRUGGLE IS REAL. My trim and buoyancy need work. They have needed work. I’ve been chasing trim for awhile. It frustrates me to no end. The backplate and wing only highlight my deficiencies. It frustrates me to no end! But I am so excited to grow! And really…the plate and wing are so pretty.

See! So pretty.

Instead of quitting, I am enlisting the help of the S-Fish and the K-Fish. Both have PERFECT trim. They make it look so easy. I’m hoping it’s a Jedi mind trick. Ok, I know it’s not but we can work together to fix me! Of course, the true test will be when the M-Fish gets back int he water after ear-gate (Seriously. I miss him. The ocean just is not the same without him.)

Circling back to the point, a growth mindset says, “I can and will get my trim figured out. I won’t stop until I do”.

What is the opposite of a growth mindset? A fixed mindset. A fixed mindset relies on talent and skill previously acquired. A fixed mindset says, “I learned this, I’ve always done it this way, it works. That’s all I need to know”. Here’s the problem, the world changes around us.

In diving, the community learns from tragedy and scientific study. What if best practice has changed? What if safety regulations and recommendations changed? Even more basic…what if something got easier?

If the community stops learning what will happen? The community grows stagnant and disappears.

A growth mindset is also essential for a Just Culture.

I know, I know. If you’ve read my blog before you know who I am referring to, Gareth Lock and his book Under Pressure! I’m telling you, it’s brilliant stuff. I’ve included a link to his website below.

Lock, loosely paraphrasing and boiling down to my comprehension, discusses Just Culture as a network that allows for “failing safely”. This means that you won’t be shamed for making a mistake but rather, your team will support you and help you learn. Just Culture also helps remove or lessen the authority gradient. So, if your instructor or superior makes a mistake, you can speak up without fear of negative reaction. Just Culture ensure that respect is given regardless of rank or reputation. Everyone gets a voice.

We can all learn from each other. The day you stop learning is the day you become stagnant.

If you become stagnant and stop learning can you continue to keep up with current problems? Without a growth mindset, can you find new ways to solve these problems? Without Just Culture can you share new things or help build a strong plan with less errors?

Can you advocate for the ocean or anything else?

Probably not.

A great example in diving is buoyancy control. Not only is buoyancy control a diver safety issue, it is a conservation issue.

If you do not practice good buoyancy control, there is potential you are the bull in the china shop. You crash into delicate structures or the nests of little critters, destroying what nature has built. Wouldn’t you rather take only memories and leave only bubbles? Don’t you want to visit again? What if you didn’t know how to control your buoyancy? What if you’re simply out of practice? Would you be upset if someone point it out in a constructive way?

If you view this with a growth mindset, no. A little embarrassed maybe. No likes to be told they are wrong.

One of the biggest struggles I am currently having is making the transition from a “knee student” to a “neutral student”. In English, when i was originally trained, we would descend to the depth we were going to and kneel on the bottom while we did skills. I was also not originally taught to dive in trim either. I was a 30–45 degree angle diver. Now I have to learn to do my skills while neutrally buoyant and in trim. That’s not so bad. It’s the getting into trim and diving like that all the time I’m struggling with. I’m also struggling with proper propulsion techniques (kicking). I learned to flutter kick — straight legs and from the hip. It works but it is not as efficient or, sometimes, effective. It also may not be appropriate for all environments.

The K-Fish has the prettiest finning. The S-Fish is a frog kick rocket ship. They’re both incredibly impressive.

With a growth mindset, I don’t have to sit on the surface and dream. One thing at a time. Trim, then propulsion. Of course, it is not always easy to feel positive about the growth mindset. There are days that I feel like the worst diver ever. There are days I feel like I’ll never improve. However, I reframe the problem, set my ego aside (also sometimes difficult!) and start looking for resources. I also have a mantra that I really like, “I can. I will. I must.”

Today, on World Oceans Day, I challenge you:

If you are a diver: What can you do to better advocate for the ocean with what you say AND what you do?

If you are not a diver: UHM…why not?!

Just kidding :) I love lots of non-divers and encourage them to try it some time. If they don’t want to try it that’s okay too.

If you are not a diver: what can you do to better advocate for the oceans with what you say AND what you do?

Whoa! Same question for divers and non-divers. Funny how that works :)

Get out there and walk the walk. Talk the talk. Finally…walk the walk AND talk the talk.

Love the oceans. Love each other. Spread kindness.

Happy World Oceans Day

Selfie at the Catalina Dive Park. Peep the shark mask!

Lover of all things scuba diving and ocean. Documenting my journey through my life aquatic.