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.
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.
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.”
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,
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.
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.