In 2016, PADI, the world's largest dive training organization, launched the PADI AmbassaDiver Program. Its purpose: to introduce more people to, and engage more divers with, the magic of the aquatic realm, through a team of PADI AmbassaDivers.
AmbassaDivers are passionate divers and dive educators, committed to elevating diving in their communities and across the planet, and making people's worlds - and ours - a little bit better. Each AmbassaDiver carries the emblematic torch, lighting the way for more people to pursue their passion, discover their purpose or follow their dreams to explore, experience and protect the underwater world.
Meet Mark Pinnell: Curacao's first PADI Ambassadiver! Managing Director of The Dive Bus, Curacao, he optimizes this statement in every way, by “Livin’ the dream and keepin’ it clean”.
"When PADI told me that I'd been selected to be an Ambassadiver, I thought they were kidding", laughed Mark. "I was seriously surprised and totally shocked and confused! Why me?? I just do what I do and have a laugh. Apparently, that's why they chose me.
Now I've got a bit more used to the idea, I think it's brilliant and will hopefully draw more attention to Curacao as the awesome shore diving destination that it is - and the importance of sustainable tourism".
Livin’ the dream and keepin’ it clean
A Korean adoptee brought up in Japan, Sudan and
The 9-5 work thing as an Insurance Broker in London didn’t really do it for him, so he set off on an adventure to lands far, far away, in search of a dream. Whatever it would turn out to be.
Teaching English to business professionals for two very cool, fun years in Chile was when he discovered that he was good at - and enjoyed - teaching. A short time later, freezing his butt off in a glacial lake in New Zealand during his PADI Open Water Dive course, he discovered he had found something he loved to be doing. And once certified, he explored some of the most amazing dive locations in the world including the Great Barrier reef, Bali and the Gili Islands.
“A week after becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, I was wearing a bright pink t-shirt and boardies, trying to get my head around the never-ending duties of a Dive Instructor at Stuart Coves, in Nassau, Bahamas. A busy, popular and well-respected dive center, where everyone but me seemed to know exactly what they were doing. But I loved it. I was livin’ the dream."Within a few months, Mark's first “Dive Bus” hit the road, the little Dive Bus "Hut" opened on Pierbaai and they set about cleaning the reef and the beach.
"After meeting and marrying a fellow Dive Instructor, Suzy, on a Bahamian beach, we set off on more diving adventures, together.
These eventually took us to Curacao, where we soon discovered an amazing, un-dived and un-loved reef, off the shore of a small, tatty fishermen’s beach, Pierbaai. Who knew Curacao had such awesome shore diving - and so close to shore? With no boat engines to fix and clean!"
Project AWARE supported Mark's clean-up efforts right from the get-go, using one of his photos for their annual Clean Up ad campaign.
“The Dive Bus Clean Up dives became regular events, with more and more divers and dive shops joining each time. It was awesome!" recalls Mark.
"Don't ask me where the time has gone to, but it's been an amazing adventure. What started out as a tiny little dive shop became a PADI dive center, then a PADI 5 Star center - and all of a sudden it was 2015 and The Dive Bus's 10th Birthday!
Although we've always focused on ocean protection, last year we decided to take a more "visible" stance on stance on the issue and sustainable tourism. The idea was to encourage more awareness of and participation with, among our divers and other Curacao dive centers.
So we became a 100% Project AWARE dive center, adopted our house reef and earned PADI Green Star status by reducing and recycling waste and encouraging divers to do the same.
It's very cool that these initiatives are really popular and I think our divers appreciate what we're trying to achieve and encourage. The clean up dives in particular, but I reckon the poor guy who empties our recycling bins gets tired of having to come by so often!"
Why does Mark love what he's doing so much?
"I’ve met and dived surgeons, rocket scientists, secret service agents, professional lock pickers, Hollywood set builders, rock stars, windmill engineers, graffiti artists, long distance truck drivers, mums, dads, kids, grandparents, wealthy and not-so-wealthy, people with Doctorates and folks without a high school diploma.
Regardless of who or what they are above the surface, underwater, diving, they’re all folks in rubber suits with looks of wonder and amazement in their eyes - and, often, snot on their faces! And I love seeing their reactions when they discover 'my world'.
My personal mission?
Keep on doing what I'm doing: helping people fall in love with diving, on beautiful reefs that we all help keep beautiful. Livin' the dream and keepin' it clean."
"Scuba diving may not be most people’s first thought as a career, but it certainly turned out to be mine.
And I wouldn’t change any of it, even if I could."
|Meet the other PADI Ambassadivers|
Follow PADI Ambassadiver Mark and his daily life at The Dive Bus, Curacao:
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