HammerHeads celebrate achievements in marine conservation

Published May 1, 2001

Another barrel is thoughtlessly thrown into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

A helpless sea otter chokes feverishly after being strangled by a plastic ring from a six-pack of soda.

These are but two examples of the atrocities that continue to rip holes into the fabric of our delicate marine environment. The plight of the Earth’s ocean and its creatures becomes more serious everyday.

Without a doubt, it is the responsibility of every individual to aid in the preservation of our marine environment. However, many people spend their entire lives without thinking twice about what would happen if our world’s waters were forever destroyed.

Perhaps we all just need a friendly push in the right direction? The HammerHeads, an international network of scuba diving enthusiasts, are attempting to do just that.

The HammerHeads are diving fanatics who get together to explore local waters while trying to create a buzz about the sport. HammerHeads come from all walks of life and levels of experience, from beginning snorkelers to advanced technical divers. With over 100 HammerHeads chapters worldwide–from Ames, Iowa, to the Cayman Islands–this group of underwater adventure-seekers is committed to their passion for the water and a healthy respect for the environment.

Monthly group dives and beach clean-ups throughout each year allow all chapters to keep their feet wet and sharpen their minds about the condition of our waters. In addition, HammerHeads chapters take part in friendly competitions against each other to prove their commitment and recently hosted their 1st Annual Cleanest Playground Contest, a worldwide effort to clean up their favorite underwater playgrounds.

By rewarding the most environment-friendly chapter, the Cleanest Playground Contest promotes efforts to improve the marine habitat while giving HammerHeads the opportunity to give back to the very resource that makes great diving possible, according to Regina Franklin, executive director for the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA).

“The health of local waters and oceans is paramount to the continued growth and development of the diving industry,” said Franklin. “This contest allows the HammerHeads to improve the marine environment while spreading the word about their clean-up efforts. A cleaner underwater environment ultimately means better diving–so it’s a win-win situation.” At the beginning of last year, each chapter was invited to enter photographic proof and a short essay describing their commitment to the environment throughout the year. The winning chapter was awarded the opportunity to represent the HammerHeads at DEMA Show 2001.

The judges selected the HammerHeads Tampa Bay Chapter as the winner of the first Cleanest Playground Contest.

“We have committed ourselves to giving something back to the resource that fuels our passion,” said Jim Rexroad, Head Hammer of the Tampa Bay Chapter. “During the past several years, we have seen some pretty surprising things in our local waters. From jewelry to stolen cars, we’ve found an array of objects lining the ocean floor. It is great to see such enthusiasm for this contest from our fellow HammerHeads”

“The important thing to remember,” Rexroad continued, “is that nobody should be left out. Every human being should take part to help keep our marine environment clean.”

Rexroad and the entire Tampa Bay Chapter practice what they preach. Leading by example, they have accomplished more in the past year than most people have in their lifetime.

One of their most valiant efforts was the orchestration of a nationwide effort to save Daisy, a stranded juvenile sperm whale. The moment Rexroad learned that his local Clearwater Marine Aquarium was treating the whale, the entire chapter took it upon themselves to generate a towel drive to aid in Daisy’s treatment.

“We swept the nation, asking every HammerHeads chapter to extend its support in our efforts to save Daisy,” said Rexroad. “It was amazing. Nobody expected to receive over 450 towels for her treatment. Unfortunately, Daisy did not make it, but we feel we did a lot to make her last hours a bit better. Daisy’s memory will carry with us forever and all of the assistance we received illustrates very clearly that people do care.”

The HammerHeads are supported by DEMA and sponsored in part by Kodak and Sea & Sea Underwater Photography, USA. With more than 100 HammerHeads chapters worldwide, these adventure enthusiasts organize a variety of fun events and activities, including organized beach clean-ups, monthly group dives, theme parties, and underwater photography contests.

Matthew Peterson ispublic relations coordinator for The HammerHeads. He can bre reached by email at [email protected].

For more information . . .

about DEMA activities and the HammerHeads, visit the HammerHeads Web site at www.h-heads.com.