For the past 34 years of his life, Kramer Wimberley has spent his time traveling to 35 countries as a scuba diver. After becoming a Master Scuba Diver Trainer in 2005, Kramer has also volunteered as a scuba instructor for inner city youth.
Kramer’s connection to the ocean runs deep, and the threat of climate change for coral reef habitats has opened his eyes to what is at stake when it comes to ocean conservation. This comes through in the words he spoke while participating in a Coral Restoration Foundation training session in Key Largo, Florida:
Kramer shares his perspective on why, to advance marine conservation, Black stories must be woven into the fabric of this movement much more than they have been to date:
Rediscovering this history is very important to Kramer, who is also a member of the board of directors of Diving with a Purpose (DWP), a diving organization with the mission of “Restoring Our Oceans, Preserving Our Heritage.”
DWP focuses on the protection, documentation, and interpretation of African slave trade shipwrecks and the maritime history and culture of African-Americans who formed a core of labor and expertise for America’s maritime enterprises.
One of the notable trips undertaken by DWP centered on his dive team researching and studying the wreckage of the oldest known slave ship at the bottom of the English Channel. The expedition was featured in a documentary series, Enslaved, which follows Kramer, the team of divers, and journalists as they work together to build on previous research analyzing the remnants of the ship and the transatlantic slave trade. This form of ocean archaeology is resurfacing critical pieces of Black history that were left in the depths of the ocean for hundreds of years.
Alongside this research, DWP is helping restore corals on the Florida Reef Tract. Their aim is to train 1,000 instructors to teach coral monitoring to 10,000 eco-divers who will conduct 100,000 coral reef surveys, with the data from these surveys ultimately directing decisions on policy for saving our oceans. Through this, they are providing opportunities for instructors from diverse backgrounds to be part of fundamental ocean conservation research.