Dubai school principal leads dive to fish out trash from sea

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Dubai - As the school’s scuba diving team ventured out into the sea, they found a variety of litter — from water bottle caps to cigarette butts and face masks.


Saman Haziq

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Published: Tue 20 Jul 2021, 2:33 AM

Teaching schoolkids the importance of marine conservation, a Dubai principal took a dive in the sea and fished out trash off Jumeirah beach.

Gill Roberts, principal of Star International School Mirdif, dived with a passionate crew from the campus for the unique clean-up drive they called ‘Dive for Debris’. Roberts and the school staff are all certified divers.

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As the school’s scuba diving team ventured out into the sea, they found a variety of trash — from water bottle caps to cigarette butts and face masks. They ensured that their ‘cleaning expedition’ was documented as they swam back with a wealth of insights and lessons for their students.

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As part of the programme, the pupils were tasked with analysing the results against global data to determine trends. It was an initiative that received a lot of praise from the school community.

“I believe that children need to be educators, and in order to be an educator regarding the ocean, you need to understand how the ocean works. That is why we have launched our first-of-a-kind ‘Ocean Ambassadors’ programme, where we educate students about the importance of ocean conservation from a young age,” said Roberts.

“Through this unique programme, we aim to teach students from an early age about the hazards that human littering causes to marine life, and underline what they can do to help protect our oceans.”

The initiative will educate students about keeping oceans clean through extensive classroom lessons and on-field exercises, which will be held at the school’s swimming pool and at different Dubai sea coasts, she added.

To take their green efforts a step further, the school also partnered with Mohamed Helmy, Professional Association of Diving Instructors (Padi) course director from Al Boom, to create events for younger children.

They have co-launched the ‘Ocean Hazard’ contest that was inspired by the conversations and proposed solutions offered by the students who were investigating ocean creatures that get entangled in debris.

The students also took part in a coral reef conservation competition where they designed an artificial coral reef to act as a home for fish and baby sharks.

“If students can think like conservationists and be proactive, then they can educate others around them to do the same, even at the age of four, we can teach our students to become oceanic ambassadors of the future,” Roberts added.

One of the school’s pupils, Farouk Unah, became the first and youngest person to freedive at Dubai Aquarium at the age of eight earlier this year.

Farouk said he was inspired by principal Roberts’ passion for scuba diving and ocean conservation.

As a Padi IDC scuba diving instructor, Roberts said she would wait for her young freedive apprentice to reach the age of 10 before she could take him through the Padi Open Water diver course and kick off his journey towards becoming one of the youngest Padi-certified open water divers.

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