Often known as the "Guardians of the Sea" for their role in guarding and protecting the local marine environment, the Kuwait Dive Team is an exemplary group of Kuwait Youth Volunteers who are going out of their ways for a noble cause – Marine Conservation. With a notable and significant number of accomplishments under their belts, this Kuwaiti Team is recognized by many major organizations around the world for their successful initiatives towards marine life that include rehabilitation of local coral reefs, and cleaning/removing harmful wastes and deadly fishing nets from our Kuwaiti beaches.
Khaleejesque got together with Dari Al-Huwail, the Coordinator & International Relations Officer of the Kuwait Dive Team and discussed the fundamentals that make up the Kuwait Dive Team, their accomplishments, and much more…..
Please tell us more about the Kuwait Dive Team?
"Guardians of the Sea", or the Kuwait Dive Team as it is officially known, is a group of young Kuwaiti volunteers who perform activities and projects contributing to protecting and rehabilitating the marine environment. This team was started in 1986. The team operates under the umbrella of the Environmental Voluntary Foundation which in turn has been recognized by many major organizations around the world like the United Nations, NAUI, KNPC, and CMAS. The team has been blessed with the support of the Amir of Kuwait, the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister as well as the Kuwaiti Government through its different ministries and authorities as well as the private and civil society sectors.
What are your usual dives like?
The great majority of dives we're involved in are risky and tiresome. These dives range between installing or maintaining mooring buoys, removing deadly fishing nets, lifting of salvage and sunken boats, underwater and shore cleanups, or coral monitoring and transplantation. The team operates on a voluntary basis and all of its activities are centered around environmental protection as our core competency.
What accomplishments of the dive team are you most proud of?
As a team and an exemplary voluntary organization fueled by the enthusiasm of Kuwaiti youth, we have and will always be proud of all of our achievements. With God' support, followed by the support of the community and various organizations, our latest accomplishments for the past year have been the following:
- Uplifting of 42 salvage boats, tons of harmful waste and deadly fishing nets from Ushairaij Coast in cooperation with the Removals Committee of the Minister's Cabinet and Kuwait Municipality and the Coast Guards.
- Removing several deadly fishing nets that killed marine creatures, harmed the coral reefs and posed an imminent threat to boaters.
- The maintenance of 70 mooring buoys across the Southern part of Kuwaiti waters and around the major Coral Reefs in Kuwait.
- Successful pilot coral transplantation of corals at Umm AlMaradim island after successfully completing a French scientific course in the Republic of the Maldives.
- The leading organization in reporting the unfortunate phenomenon of Coral Bleaching in Kuwait and taking initiative in reporting findings and results to internationally recognized scientific institutions.
- Documentation of marine life in Kuwait's waters and three important wrecks: Ras AlZour, Ushairij, and Uraifjan.
- Training of the team's members and improving their diving skills with professional Cave Diving Courses in the caves of Palinuro, Italy and experiencing the rare "Red Corals".
- International invitations to represent the Kuwait Dive Team and showcase how Kuwaiti youth contribute to the protection and rehabilitation of the environment at world-renowned institutions like NAUI, PADI, Project AWARE and CMAS; and a special visit by National Geographic.
- Numerous participation in expos and presentations like UNDP's World Youth Day 2011, TEDxSharq, and Pecha Kucha #5 – Kuwait City.
- Collaborating with civil society organizations like, LoYAC, to produce a great educational books for children and youngsters.
- Celebrating the 10-year-anniversary of towing the historical Dhow "Boom Fateh AlKhair" from and to the Scientific Center with "Nokhitha" Essa Beshara (the original Dhow's Captain).
What are the best places to dive in in Kuwait?
There are many places to dive in the world that have vibrant reefs and marine environments; each has its own taste and experience. Here in Kuwait we are fortunate to have beautiful coral reefs, but as a society we need to work all together to protect this precious treasure. Some of the most stunning places to dive here are the reefs of Qarouh, Kubbar and Umm AlMaradim Islands.
What advice would you give beach and sea lovers when it comes to protecting their environment?
Do not litter, leave only bubbles and sand trails, and be mindful of the environment around you especially the fragile coral reefs. More importantly is spreading awareness and educating others around you in your circles; family, friends, and colleagues about the importance of protecting the environment.
What advice would you give people who are interested in diving?
Diving is a great sport and a thrilling adventure. People interested in diving must be mindful of the environment around them and be safe by following the guidelines and safety measures that they are taught.
What are the dive team's future goals and projects?
As an organization, the team is very proud to work on a professional strategy and strategic plan. While operationally we have many goals we aim to reach, our main efforts will focus on raising awareness about the environment locally and globally, networking and connecting with similar diving and conservations institutions world-wide, all whilst protecting and rehabilitating the marine environment locally.
Any final words?
A big thank you to the Khaleejesque team for their support and without the support of the community we couldn't have done this. Everybody can be part of these initiatives and environmental conservation by "following us", "liking us" or "sharing a YouTube video" to raise awareness amongst your circles.
For more information about the Kuwait Dive Team, check out their website www.freekuwait.org
– Khaleejesque Team
Images courtesy of Kuwait Dive Team