Like all dive centers around the globe, Deep Blue Dive Center in Aqaba, Jordan, was hit hard by the pandemic. Jordan closed its doors to tourists and required all tourism related businesses, including dive shops, to be shuttered as well for several months.
Once employees could return to work, they did so. Tourists were still not allowed in Jordan, but there were a few guests coming from Amman and other parts of the country. Because the staff were not very busy, they began to focus their efforts on dive cleanups and started the Deep Blue Cleanup Team.
They made a concerted effort to rid a nearby dive site of years and years of fishing line, cleaning the newly opened Underwater Military Museum of the single use plastic and aluminum cans that blow in off the shore of the public beach, and their house reef.
From December 15th – June 29th they cleaned 1230 kilos of debris. Anywhere from 2 to 5 volunteer divers joined the staffs in these cleanups. The dive center did not charge any of the volunteers for dives and if they wanted to do a fun dive afterward, they did so at 20% discount.
Every one of those kilos of debris were sorted, counted, and weighed according to PADI Project Aware and then the data was uploaded on the Project AWARE website.
Deep Blue partnered with their next door neighbor, H&S Watersports, in these cleanup campaigns. The staff of H&S did several shore cleanups and gathered loads of plastic bottles, cigarette butts, plastic bags, and other items. In addition, two volunteers at the dive shop did a Go Fund Me campaign to help pay staff salaries for cleanups. They successfully raised $2835, exceeding their goal of $2800. And Deep Blue management was able to find other creative ways of funding salaries for the cleanups as well. All of this helped keep staff on board during the challenge of the pandemic.
When business started picking up after Jordan’s reopening to tourists, the cleanup campaign was slowed, but the effect of the work they did was apparent.
Mohammed Leddawi, the Operation Manager, and owner of Deep Blue also used the down time to give the business a face lift, ensure that all equipment was in top shape, ensure Covid measures were put in place, and work on improving the dive boats through remodels and refurbishing. All of this to improve customer experiences.
Slowly the dive center is rising from the pandemic. The pandemic was tough, and still is, on tourism related businesses, but Deep Blue staffs kept up good spirits through continuing to work hard and showing their love and concern for healthy reefs through regular cleanups.