Last Friday, Coastal Program manager Sean Williams and AmeriCorps VISTA member Arianna Lapke went down to the Youth Center to teach kids what SCUBA is, why HIA Environmental is incorporating it into our work, and to get them interested in scientific research.
So why is HIA doing scientific diving? What does SCUBA even stand for? Well, SCUBA — or Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus — allows us to see what habitats are present along the coasts of Chichagof Island, what kind of life is found within them, and estimate how they will change over time.
This is important for Hoonah because the community here deeply values many marine and coastal resources. Warming waters, increased cruise ship traffic, more marine debris, isostatic rebound and several other changes will impact the things we care about (salmon, shellfish, beach asparagus, crabs, sea otters, black seaweed and many more), so it’s important to make sure they aren’t being negatively affected by these changes. If we want to make sure that these resources will be available to the community for a long time it is essential that we monitor the health of their populations and habitats.
And the kids had a blast! From almost tripping over fins to waddling around in a weight belt and mask, they were very interested in SCUBA and what we’re doing to preserve coastal resources.
HIA is also doing other work to conserve the marine and coastal resources that the community cares about. Within the next couple months, we’ll be locating marine debris along the coast, surveying shellfish biomass, monitoring seastar wasting disease, recording sea surface temperatures, and identifying marine invasive species, among other things. This way the community will know how the resources they live off will be impacted by other changes in the environment.
Our goal is to get the community interested in scientific diving and research, as well as educate them on how changes in the environment can impact the resources they know and use. We even crafted a Coastal Jeopardy game to play at our next Dive Education Day!
Are you interested in learning more about SCUBA and scientific research? Do you want to test your knowledge of coastal resources and systems? Join us at our next Dive Education Day: Friday, August 12th at the Youth Center at 3:30pm!