After opening a dive shop in Placencia, Belize, in 2000, Patty Ramirez became a force for creating community and environmental projects aimed at protecting the Central American country’s abundant underwater resources.
Q: What are some of the projects you’re involved in?
A: I started Splash Kids Club in 2005, and about 70 kids have been involved in it. Through the club, the kids are certified for free as Junior Open Water divers, also learning about the importance of protecting our marine environment. I am a member of Placencia Mooring Masters, an organization that installs mooring buoys at popular dive sites. Sponsorship is not just a financial donation. Participating members provide dive-boat time, scuba tanks and manpower. We sponsored one buoy at Laughing Bird Caye National Park and a second one at Silk Cayes, a marine reserve near the barrier reef. I am also a member of the working group that was established to ensure that the best possible practices are developed and enforced at Gladden Spit Marine Reserve, where whale-shark encounters are off ered. Whale Shark Day is an event we sponsor to teach children about the importance of protecting the sharks.
Q: What do you hope will happen for the kids you are certifying?
A: I hope that the children we teach embody the philosophy in their personal value systems of how vital it is to protect our natural resources and become ambassadors for Mother Nature. I also hope that they’ll consider diving and sustainable tourism as a career.
Q: You’re a role model to so many; who do you consider your role models?
A: My role models are my mother and father. While they were not divers, I learned the importance of character, friendship and persistence from them.
Each Sea Hero featured in Scuba Diving will receive an Oris Diver’s Date watch (worth $1,595). At the end of the year, a panel of judges will select one overall winner, who will receive a $5,000 cash award from oris to further his/her work.
The Sea Heroes Award is sponsored by Scuba Diving magazine and Oris Watches. Nominate a Sea Hero here.