Divers have a special view of the world – when they dive, they connect with the ocean in a way that people who haven’t can’t understand. Maeva Gauthier and Mike Irvine wanted to bring that world to people on land, so they created the Fish Eye Project to create a “window into the ocean” to connect communities and classrooms to the underwater world. I spoke with Maeva and Mike about their World Oceans Day 2013 event at Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, BC, and what advice they have for divers who want to share their world with others.
Mike: “I love diving because it is a part of my family. My mother, father and grandfather were divers, who are all equally fascinated with the ocean. My parents met scuba diving! Through my family I learned an appreciation for the ocean and the way it connects families and communities locally and globally.”
Why is it important for divers to get involved with ocean conservation? Mike told me “Anybody who’s a diver, it’s a lifestyle… why wouldn’t you want to protect the thing that you love so much? When we go diving, it’s phenomenal, it’s serene, you don’t move quickly, everything slows down, and you just take your time and enjoy the view. Having that experience and opportunity gives a diver a different perspective, and they can share that with family, friends, and the public.” As Maeva said “The firsthand experience is very powerful… divers can help connect people with that [underwater] world.”
World Oceans Day 2013
Fisherman’s Wharf is a coastal destination near Victoria’s Inner Harbour. There’s food, shopping, eco-tourism, and even a community of “float homes” – permanent residential house boats! The wharf held a major World Oceans Day event in 2013 with fun for kids, entertainment, educational kiosks, and more.
On the wharf itself, the folks at Fish Eye Project held several live dive demonstrations designed to captivate adults and kids alike (Maeva: “We want to engage kids – but also big kids!”). The divers wore cameras to capture video of the underwater scenes they encountered, which was broadcasted in real-time on monitors on the dock. Mike said he wanted to use video to get kids excited about the ocean, echoing Sylvia Earle’s calls to “give people an opportunity to see what’s there, so they have a change to care for it.”
Fish Eye Project also partnered with the World Fisheries Trust to introduce guests to underwater critters. Divers brought up hardy species – such as decorator crabs and sea cucumbers – to the surface, for World Fisheries Trust educators to introduce to kids in touch tanks, and taught them about their biology.
Want to hold your own live dive event for World Oceans Day? Here are some tips from Mike and Maeva.
It’s important to make sure that your activities legal, safe, and courteous. Fisherman’s Wharf in particular is also residential community, with float homes, so it was essential to get community approval. Fish Eye Project also worked with the harbor authority to work out logistical issues, such as keeping boat traffic away from the divers.
Schedule your dives
Fish Eye Project did several dives during their event at specific times. That way, they were able to attract a crowd that was not too large, not too small. Also – schedule the dives so that visitors get to watch the divers suit up. Kids love the set up and equipment, Maeva said “The kids get very excited by the divers themselves, seeing them, asking questions about their equipment, and watching them jump in the water.”
Practice, practice, practice! Especially if you are using equipment that is new, or you’re diving in an unfamiliar place. Make sure you have a good power source, and be prepared to troubleshoot any technical issues. Things may definitely come up that you don’t expect. For example, next year Fish Eye Project plans to bring a tent for the dock, since sun glare can interfere with the monitors.
Seize opportunities to talk about human involvement
Be sure to speak with your audience about what they can do to keep the ocean healthy! These opportunities often arise for divers in the form of ocean trash. Mike told me “Sometimes under Fisherman’s Wharf we do find things people have just dumped in and you see it on the screen. That’s our opportunity to talk about it and why you shouldn’t just chuck that in!”
Mike also mentioned that their interpreters with World Fisheries Trust built in conservation messaging when talking with visitors about the marine animals the divers brought up. This is a wonderful strategy, since people will be face to face with the animal they will be helping with their actions.
What’s next for Fish Eye Project? Maeva says they plan to do many live dives this summer in the Victoria inner harbor, in partnership with World Fisheries Trust. They’re also moving forward on installing artificial reefs in the form of Reef Balls at Fisherman’s Wharf to educate people about marine restoration and the role of artificial reefs.
To learn more about Fish Eye Project, visit FishEyeProject.org
If you’re interested in the technology that Fish Eye Project uses for their events – SubEye Technologies – feel free to shoot them an email.