I have been in the diving industry as a professional for the last 22 years. I am the operations manager for UNEXSO, in Freeport, Grand Bahama, where I started to dive as Instructor in 1995. I am currently a PADI Course Director, an NSS-CDS full cave diving instructor and a TDI technical instructor.
At Unexso we have a shark feeding dive. I am the manager of the dive and since 1996 I coordinate the training of the team, set up, safety and control standards of operation. I am the creator of the shark handling course for guests who want to experience it and although my life is dedicated to the Caribbean Reef, I have traveled in different parts of the world to meet with different shark professionals and learn from them and about their sharks. Some of the species I am very familiar with are Tigers, Bulls, Black Tips, White Tips, Blue, Mako.
In 2009 I started a petition to convince the government of the Bahamas to protect the sharks in our Country and after four months and 25,000 signatures I gave my petition to the Bahamas National Trust and PEW organization. Together we worked for the approval of shark sanctuary in 2011.
I have been nominated Shark Ambassador by Sharks Savers Singapore and Wild Aid. Invited to both Singapore and China, I have participated in numerous campaigns to educate the public about shark finning.
My day to day work with sharks is recorded in a behavior diary I keep to log presence of sharks, external factors, behavior, changes of behavior according to season. I am not a scientist but I support scientists work who are interested in working with the Caribbean Reef.
At Unexso I have developed and support a local Bahamian educational program. Every year, 8 students from the St. George Public school start in grade 10 learning how to swim and scuba dive, become Open Water divers, continue to Advance in grade 11 and finish with Rescue and Dive Master preparation in grade 11. This is a total of 24 students per year. The training, gear, boats, dives is all provided cost free. I trained their teacher and instructor and monitor the development of the program. Personally I work with grade 12, during job training, introducing them to customer service, cavern diving, shark diving and various specialties.
After graduation, those who do not receive a scholarship start working the summer as equipment room and tanks attendants. While working in the diving industry and being paid they also progress to boat captains, dive masters and instructors.
The program is designed to provide a professional platform different than fishing or lobster and conch harvest. The program is part of the marine science and it is a subject in their school career. Many of our former students are now in marine dedicated careers all over the Bahamas and even the US. Some of my favorite success stories are: police force officer has created an underwater section of the Royal Police, marine science professor in the US, recreational facility managers in Eleuthera, Abaco and Bimini.
I also work in close proximity with the Bahamas National Trust in regard of cave exploration and mapping of new underground territories. It is all volunteer work I complete after work at night or on my days off. As cave diving instructor and explorer I have explored and charted different caves, gave all the necessary information to the Trust, which is using said information to expand the marine protected areas of Grand Bahama to include those caves. Some of them are connected to creeks, mangrove areas and nursing grounds, making my work for shark conservation and cave conservation one big connecting loop.
The most recent proposed area is in Sweetings Cay, where I have connected caves to demonstrate how the water flows from the creek straight into the community and affects the whole area. Sweetings Cay is now on the list for the MPA.