Protecting Our Most Natural Environment

Protecting Our Most Natural Environment

by Matt Broughton, Technology Learning Coach & UE Group Supervisor

The young YIS Underwater Explorers (UE) service group is a popular and adventurous collection of high school students who want to protect the beauty of the oceans and educate our community about the state of what French freediver and conservationist, Jacques Mayol, called "our most natural environment".

Diving as en expedition at YIS started in 2008 when mathematics teacher Sergio Mejia, also a dive instructor, initiated the program allowing students earn their open water or advanced certification. They initially went to the Izu Peninsula annually, but also ventured to Guam to expand their horizons. Okinawa has been the trip's destination since 2011. The UE service club, which started last year under my supervision, gives students the opportunity to further develop their diving and put those skills to use to benefit society. The student-led group aims to understand and contribute to the conservation of the aquatic environment in Japan and greater southeast Asia by working with the organization Project Baseline to survey, record and share data about local ocean conditions. A major part of this effort is to educate the YIS community about the state of the ocean.

Instructors Matt Broughton and Miko Zulueta collect plastic waste off the coast of the Philippines

This October, the intrepid group of explorers will travel to Anilao, Philippines where they will partner with local ocean conservation professionals to play a small part in a greater initiative to reduce the amount of plastic in our world's oceans. Their goals for the trip are twofold. First, they will participate in underwater plastic removal using diver propulsion vehicles. Second, they will document their efforts in a short film about the effects of plastic pollution they encounter.

They understand that their first goal is only for the short-term and will do little to decrease the unimaginable amount of plastic in our world's oceans. But, they do hope that their video will help raise awareness about the effects of the daily habits of ordinary citizens like the members of the YIS community. And a change in those habits can have long-reaching effects.

The Underwater Explorers service group on the Izu Peninsula

Does your child love the beauty and mystery of the ocean? The trip is open to high school students holding an open water diving certification. Contact me with any inquiries. I'd love to see more students protecting "our most natural environment".