Reef Environmental Education Foundation is a grass-roots organization that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists.
They have 3 major projects, and they are 1) Grouper Moon Project, 2) Fish Survey Project, and 3) the Lionfish Eradication Project (Lionfish are an invasive species in the Atlantic). The trip to St. Lucia was a survey trip. It is important to survey the reefs and check the health of the fish and corals. A healthy coral reef is full of life! These surveys go into a huge database, and scientists can make recommendations and do research on specific areas with the data gathered. There were 18 volunteers who went to St. Lucia to dive, and while diving, document the present species and their abundance. We discovered 218 species in St. Lucia! Pretty remarkable, really. It was my first REEF expedition, and I enjoyed it immensely. It was wonderful to be surrounded by people as committed to the oceans and to conservation as I am. You think I know about fish? Not on the level of most of these surveyors! They are amazing.
We stayed at Anse Chastanet Resort, and did our diving with Scuba St. Lucia. I have rarely stayed at an all-inclusive, and I must tell you Anse Chastanet exceeded my expectations. The service is incredible, and the food fabulous. The chef had a different menu every evening, giving us many choices throughout the week. It was fun to discover new dishes, and they had an Indian Food night. There is a significant Indian influence on the island, and this is reflected in the food. When slavery ended in 1838, plantation owners brought in indentured servants from India to take their place as a cheap labor force. After the contracts were up, most of those from India stayed and made their home on the island, and their customs and foods found its way into the culture of St. Lucia.
Scuba St Lucia, the dive business on the resort’s property, is simply one of the best I have ever seen. The boat, Miss Bertha, was big and roomy with plenty of space for 18 divers. The dive masters were knowledgeable and solicitous, adapting their dive style to ours. REEF divers dive SLOWLY in order to find fish. I thoroughly enjoyed my dives with them, and cannot give a stronger recommendation. Dive with Scuba St Lucia, and you will be as impressed and happy as I was. I guarantee it! My group had Errol as a dive master, and he was superb. One of the crew, Bradley, was on the spot when I needed help. Because of my back issues (I have eight pedicle screws and four rods holding my spine in place) I cannot lift tanks. Bradley made sure I did not have to. Everyone working the boat was incredibly hospitable.
Have you ever taken a vacation that combines volunteerism or Citizen Science on your trip? I have done several of them, and I have enjoyed each and every trip. Several travel companies offer volunteer tourism and/or Citizen Science. I’d love to hear about other experiences!