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Keeping Bermudian divers diving

Kristy Drutman

Image © Weldon Wade

Kristy Drutman

Image © Weldon Wade

The first and only Bermudian certified as a freediver, scuba diver, and closed-circuit rebreather diver, Weldon Wade has been active in the Bermuda diving community for over 10 years and passionately dedicates his time to its growth.

Weldon is also the founder of Guardians of the Reef, a marine conservation organization on a mission to get new divers excited about exploring and protecting the ocean and encourage more young Bermudians to put on a pair of fins, a mask, and a snorkel and see for themselves what lies beneath the waves.

Weldon’s marine conservation organization, Guardians of the Reef, hunts invasive lionfish by way of techniques such as spearing as trapping · Meredith Andrews

As well as keeping divers diving, ocean protection is at the core of Guardians, with hunting invasive lionfish and removing plastic pollution from land and the seafloor among the primary goals of the organization.

Weldon says, “I want to encourage and inspire more Bermudians to discover and explore our beautiful blue backyard, and to love and protect it for future generations.”
The gulf stream keeps the water around Bermuda warm and clean, allowing coral reefs to continue to thrive. Protecting the sea around Bermuda is at the core of Guardians · Weldon Wade

As a child, Weldon’s family threw him into the ocean—a rite of passage that many Caribbean men go through—and so his connection to the ocean began at a very young age. Growing up in the “Jewel of the Atlantic,” he enjoyed countless hours of swimming and snorkeling.

For Weldon, “Human health is interconnected with ocean health. You can see that clearly here in Bermuda where the health of our reef is critical in supporting our year-round tourism, our food supply, and our ability to teach the next generation how to take care of our community.”

Growing up in the “Jewel of the Atlantic,” Weldon enjoyed countless hours of swimming and snorkeling. He discovered his deep love of diving as an adult · Weldon Wade

It wasn’t until adulthood that Weldon discovered his deep love for diving. But whenever he was at a dive operation or tourist site, he would notice that the other Black people were in assisting roles. The operations were almost always owned and run by white people.

As he built his expertise in diving, Weldon became more and more aware that on a typical dive boat, he was the only one who looked like him. He increasingly realized the extent to which diving was a very privileged and inaccessible space for many, especially young people of color. It continues to be a concern that he seeks to address. Weldon says,

“I see young people who are so excited to dive. Then they board a dive boat and don’t see anyone who looks like them, and they start to feel uncomfortable. Eventually, they don't feel connected to the activity, and ultimately fall out of love because there is no representation.”
The Guardians explore an airplane wreck. Divers typically locate the wreckage by looking for sunlight reflecting off hundreds of square feet of aluminum panels that covered the airplane’s fuselage · James Doughty
While giving Black people a seat at the table (or, in this case, a wetsuit on the diving boat) is a start, it’s clear to Weldon that implementing institutional shifts to cultivate Black leadership and support systems is even more important.

Weldon has dedicated the last decade to being a community leader by creating and facilitating multiple events like beach clean-ups and teach-ins to educate people about his passion for exploring and taking care of the ocean. Due to Covid-19, Weldon has had to press pause on these community events, but is very excited to start them up again once the pandemic is over.

Weldon has been stunned at the millions of microplastic particle confetti decorating the high tide line in Bermuda. Guardians is working to remove plastic pollution from land and the seafloor · Weldon Wade

Looking to the next generation, Weldon wants to share the incredible experiences and gifts he has received from diving. “I don't want to be the only one doing this work,” he explains.

“No matter what I’m doing, I’m going to help level people up, especially the youth through mentorship and coaching. Whether that be sailing, boating, diving, plastic pollution, invasive species, we need them to be the voice and the face of this movement going forward.”
Weldon wants to pass on the incredible experiences and gifts he has received from diving to the next generation · Weldon Wade
Learn more about Weldon

Founder, Guardians of the Reef Website · Facebook · Instagram · Twitter


Kristy Drutman

Founder of Brown Girl Green

Kristy Drutman is a Filipina environmental media creator and the founder of Brown Girl Green, a media platform exploring the intersections between media, diversity, and environmentalism. As a sustainability communications expert, Kristy has spoken in front of thousands and facilitated workshops centered on environmental media and storytelling in cities across the United States. She has also worked with youth from around the world to create collaborative, intersectional online media with the goal of creating conscious, culturally relevant content to engage audiences about proactive solutions to the climate crisis.

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