The second year of Dive Fest Barbados had its soft launch at the weekend on the grounds of Barbados Blue, located at Needhams Point. The event which was conceived last year in an effort to foster a strong water and ocean awareness among the Barbadian population, opened up with its Kids Swim programme, which featured just over 100 children participating in various water activities which included snorkelling lessons and brief talks on the importance and responsibility they all share in taking care of the environment, especially the parts that affect sea life.
During the early morning session at Hilton Barbados, Nikola Simpson, a marine biologist attached to Barbados Blue, spoke to the individual groups of children, giving them a brief rundown on environmental responsibility in terms of keeping our beaches clean for the sustainability of life off our coasts. She also gave a general lesson on the types of life that can be found just off the shore.
Andre Miller, another marine biologist with Barbados Blue, chimed in with additional information on the importance of sea life not only for recreational use but also our for the Barbados economy at large. After these brief talks with the youngsters, they proceeded to break up into groups for their lessons in the pools on swimming basics and safety in the water.
Andre Miller had this to say to the media, “Last year, we taught 100 children; due to popular demand we have doubled it. Thanks to Carter’s, BHTA, Hilton [and others] for sponsoring this event. Today, we went [to] the Hilton and taught [100 children] three different stations. We had the environmental and conservationist station where we biologists talked to our kids about our coral reef, the reef fish, [and] the lionfish problems. Our second station was first aid. We want our children to know basic first aid and CPR. And the third station, everybody’s favourite, the pool; this is where we did our trials…”
During the press conference, the chief executive officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Rudy Grant, said the association was happy to be involved with Dive fest 2018.
“We are ensuring that we make this activity a staple on our calendar of events. One of the reasons we have been supporting this event is that we believe it has significant potential to encourage more divers to come to Barbados, and of course more visitors. We very often speak of the land area, but there are great opportunities that exist in the marine environment for divers to be able to explore our wrecks, to be able to see our variety of fish.”
Paul Croney from Fisherman’s Corner was on hand to represent the Carters company’s sponsorship of the event and emphasized that even though they were a first-time sponsor, the organization had already made plans to support the event on an annual basis.
Nikola Simpson also shared the committee’s interest in not only reaching out to even more children next year but also incorporating older children, and bringing the program to local primary schools.
The annual Dive Fest slate of events begins officially on the 4th of July with beach cleanups planned for around the island. (SB)