In October 2015 the Women Divers Hall of Fame announced the names of six ladies to be inducted in Spring 2016. Included in the new fellowship is the marine conservation educator and coral ambassador, Patti Kirk Gross.
Patti Kirk Gross serves on the board of the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF).
WDHOF is not the only industry player to recognize the valuable work done by Patti Gross and the CRF. This conservation organization came to the attention of another diving industry leading lady two years ago: Lee Ann Hires, international sales manager of Dive Rite.
Dive Rite was attending a major event at Buddy Dive, Bonaire in 2013 when Lee Ann Hires got curious about an environmental venture. The staff at Buddy Dive had been raving about a new project — the Coral Restoration Foundation had established a local coral nursery.
“It sounded intriguing, so I swam out and looked at the nursery a number of times over the course of our event”, Hires said. “I found it fascinating, and was thrilled when Francesca of CRF Bonaire asked if I wanted to join her on a morning dive, to see her work in the nursery. She encouraged me to join in. I was soon attaching the juvenile Staghorn Coral to the coral trees. By the time I surfaced, I was hooked.”
Later that year, Hires had the opportunity to meet Patti Gross.
“It is awesome to hear that the Women Divers Hall of Fame has acknowledged her outstanding work,” Hires said. “Patti’s contagious enthusiasm for reef rescue is a huge asset to the Coral Restoration Foundation.”
A scuba diver since 1986, Hires has dived caves, cold water, blue water, wrecks and reefs all over the globe.
“It is really obvious that if our reefs die, marine life dies, and that is not a good thing,” she told DeeperBlue.com. “Coral reefs in the Caribbean and Florida have undergone a terrifying decline, with some regions losing 98% of their growth. The Coral Restoration Foundation is essential in attempting to stop this trend and start to repopulate our oceans. I was impressed at their state of the art propagation techniques. The fact they grow corals out in the ocean, near to where they will be permanently planted, and their plan to plant enough coral so that it will hopefully repopulate naturally. I felt that it was important that Dive Rite did something tangible to help actively support this vital work.”
Dive Rite is known for manufacturing equipment for serious divers. While the company is heavily associated with cave and technical diving gear, it also produces equipment for commercial and recreational divers, and its equipment is used in 99 countries around the world, according to Hires.
“After talking and diving with the team at the Coral Restoration Foundation I knew that our gear would support their specific requirements,” she said.
The CRF teams need to be able to carry a tool bag and swim with buckets of coral, epoxy and hammers. It is essential that they are free to work underwater — having unrestricted movement to grab and reach. Hires said Dive Rite built a package the company thought would work best for them.
The package we created consists of a branded TransPac and Voyager wing with a separate tool pocket.
“I felt it important that this system had three important purposes,” she said. “It was vital the CRF team had high quality equipment to support their work that would also visually recognize their unique efforts. And it needed to create a revenue stream to help generate valuable funds to support future CRF work. I am delighted to confirm that when anyone, anywhere, buys a branded Coral Restoration Foundation Dive Rite TransPac, Voyager Wing and weight pocket set, we will donate US$100 to the CRF.
Hires hopes Dive Rite‘s work with CRF “will also entice other companies and divers to also support the critical work the CRF does.
“We are glad to be a working partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation, united by our love of the oceans. None of us want to sit back and watch our underwater worlds destroyed. That is what is so great about the Dive Rite / Coral Restoration Foundation partnership,” she said.