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Under water marine life.<p></p>

Young divers take to the water to explore, protect Pacific Northwest marine life

The Pacific Northwest is home to some incredible and very accessible scuba diving sites.

“The underwater world is amazing," said Abbey Dias, a 24-year-old scuba instructor. "And I think people are just not yet aware of all the life that exists under there and also how our lives are connected to the ocean."

She says diving totally changed her life, which is why she has become an instructor and giving others that same experience at the Underwater Park in Edmonds.

Dias is part of Annie Crawley's Scuba Diving Team, teaching kids as young as 10 years old, how to dive.

“I just love the ocean in general," said Max Clausen, a 14-year-old who has been diving for two years. "I love being out with all my buds and just like getting to spend time with all the sea creatures and just being out in the water, feels really incredible."

“The ocean is under-represented in our education system,” said Crawley, while suited up, ready to descend into the Edmonds Underwater Park with her group of young divers.

More than just having fun underwater, Crawley’s setting young divers on a lifelong journey of exploring and protecting our oceans.

“We have to learn a lot of species ids so I can name most species in the park,” said Fiona Treacy, an 18-year-old diver who has already earned her Advanced Drysuit Diver certification and is now working on scientific and photography certifications. She became a certified diver along Seattle’s Alki Beach and in addition to diving the Edmonds Underwater Park, she’s also been diving around Marco Island, Florida, and Belize.

“I’ve always wanted to scuba dive after seeing pictures of these beautiful corals," she said. "And you go down and they’re beautiful but then sometimes you see like these pieces of bleached coral, like broken corals and honestly it just makes my heart like sink a bit. I just feel so sad because it’s such a beautiful place and you see the effects of like climate change and everything coming in and ruining this beautiful ecosystem."

Crawley’s worked for decades, documenting the threats to our oceans and the creatures that inhabit those waters.

“Climate change, ocean acidification, ocean pollution, including carbon, noise, plastic and runoff. And it’s happening right here in our backyard,” said Crawley, an accomplished underwater filmmaker, and Master Scuba Diver Trainer. “And if we can’t do something about it here because we are a community of ocean people, we can’t do it anywhere, so we’re starting in our backyard.”

Crawley and her team of young divers urge everyone to do something to help protect and save our oceans; prevent runoff, stop using single-use plastics, clean up beaches, even write elected officials to pass policy to protect our oceans.

“If people are the problem, only people can be the solution,” she said.

Tacoma’s working to help people celebrate, learn, and protect the oceans.

The Tacoma Ocean Fest, kicks off June 10 with a Lantern Paddle, offering more events throughout the month of June.