This month, REEF is proud to highlight one of our outstanding Conservation Partners: Pura Vida Divers in West Palm Beach, Florida. REEF Conservation Partners are active organizations and dive shops dedicated to protecting marine environments. As valued REEF ambassadors, they teach fish ID classes, host survey dives, organize volunteer events and more. With partners across the country and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to engage. You can see the full listing of Conservation Partners or register your business or organization as a REEF Conservation Partner here: www.REEF.org/conservation-partners.
How does Pura Vida Divers engage with REEF programs?
Fish ID is always a favorite subject for our guests and our staff! We host fish and animal ID survey dives on West Palm Beach's offshore reefs, as well as at local shore diving sites like Blue Heron Bridge. South Florida is home to a plethora of wildlife not often found throughout most of the world. Our dive sites are a mating ground for endangered wildlife like Sea Turtles, Goliath Grouper and Sharks. You will occasionally find Sawfish, Manta Rays or even Whale Sharks swimming above the reefs. These large animal sightings in particular inspire a curiosity in divers to learn even more about the amazing animals they encounter every day. During our daily dive charters, guests are encouraged to participate in proactive efforts like invasive lionfish removal. When we host "crew dives" for our staff, you'll find many of us underwater with a short pole spear in hand, harvesting these invasive fish.
What other actions do you take to promote ocean conservation?
When you arrive at Pura Vida Divers, the next thing you'll see after you're greeted by the smiling faces of our staff, are a series of brochures and handouts from REEF and similar environmentally-focused organizations. In addition to leading REEF programs, we participate in other important conservation education programs, like BleachWatch workshops. Pura Vida Divers is also the Adopt-A-Park sponsor of Phil Foster Park, home to the world-renowned Blue Heron Bridge shore diving site. We host quarterly beach and reef cleanups at Blue Heron Bridge and offshore, usually removing over 1,000 lbs. of marine debris every year. Every month, guests are welcomed to Pura Vida for a "social night" where they learn about fascinating scientific research or conservation efforts that impact the oceans, waterways, and marine life.
We also offer travel opportunities throughout the year with environmentally conscious operators that create lasting personal interactions between our guests and wildlife or marine habitats that they would otherwise not encounter. We hope to inspire our followers through these travel opportunities to see the larger picture of the importance of marine conservation on a global scale.
The shop founders and our staff also play an important role working in conjunction with state and national government representatives and policymakers to ensure that the health of our ocean wildlife is taken into account when drafting new legislation. As a South Florida based business, we can help provide vital insight into the fiscal benefit of protecting and maintaining our beautiful natural ecosystems.
How can REEF members get involved with your projects?
The most exciting way for REEF members to get involved is to explore Palm Beach's reefs and dive alongside us! Fish ID experts will benefit from the keen eyes of our private Photo Guides. These skilled pros are in the water every day, and can point out the amazing macro life often overlooked by the average diver. They've got the experience to help you photograph a colorful nudibranch, find a seahorse clinging to sargassum, or observe an octopus peeking out of its shell-covered home.
If you're up for a fish identification challenge, join us for a blackwater dive charter, hosted every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. We head out in the darkness of night to drift in the Gulf Stream, and observe the fascinating creatures that appear during each night's diurnal migration. You'll encounter a cornicopia of marine life, often never before observed in their larval state. After the dive, hop onto an online blackwater discussion group to share your photos and finds with researchers and photographers around the world.
Volunteering during quarterly beach and reef cleanups are a great way to spend time with friends and family and help reduce our environmental impact. Monthly social nights introduce you to a community of local divers dedicated to environmental stewardship, and provide an evening of fun and education, with wine and beer!