In 2016, PADI, the world's largest dive training organization, launched the PADI AmbassaDiver Program. Its purpose: to introduce more people to, and engage more divers with, the magic of the aquatic realm, through a team of PADI AmbassaDivers. AmbassaDivers are passionate divers and dive educators, committed to elevating diving in their communities and across the planet, and making people's worlds - and ours - a little bit better. Each AmbassaDiver carries the emblematic torch, lighting the way for more people to pursue their passion, discover their purpose or follow their dreams to explore, experience and protect the underwater world.
Meet Mark Pinnell: Curacao's first PADI Ambassadiver! Mark Pinnell is the Managing Director of The Dive Bus on Curacao and he optimizes this statement in every way, by “Livin’ the dream and keepin’ it clean”!
"When PADI told me the news, I thought they were kidding", laughed Mark. "I was seriously surprised and totally shocked and confused! Why me?? I just do what I do and have a laugh. Apparently, that's why they chose me." "Now I've got a bit more used to the idea, it's brilliant news and will hopefully draw more attention to Curacao as the awesome shore diving destination that it is, and the importance of Sustainable Tourism"
Anyone who knows or has dived with Mark knows how passionate he is about diving and the ocean. Exploring, discovering, sharing and protecting the underwater realm. Making it fun and engaging at the same time. His passion is as engaging as his sense of fun, so here's Mark's story: why PADI chose him as Curacao's first PADI AmbassaDiver.
As a Korean adoptee brought up in Japan, Sudan and “tropical” Braintree, England, he had no clue what he wanted to do when he grew up. Except, possibly, be a Pirate. The 9-5 work thing as an Insurance Broker in London didn’t really do it for him, so after giving it a fair try, he set off on an adventure to lands far, far away, in search of a dream. Whatever it was. Teaching English to business professionals for two very cool, fun years in Chile was when he discovered that he was good at - and enjoyed - teaching. Who knew?? A short time later, while freezing his butt off in a glacial lake in New Zealand during his PADI Open Water Dive course, he discovered he had found something he loved. Once a certified diver, he started a travel adventure to some of the most amazing dive locations in the world including the Great Barrier reef, Bali, and the Gili Islands.
Now, he was certain he knew what he wanted to do when he “grew up”: make a living diving with fun people in beautiful places. “Become a dive instructor. Be livin’ the dream.”
Mark says, “A week after becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, trying to get my head around the never-ending duties of a Dive Instructor at Stuart Coves, in Nassau, ahamas. A busy, popular and well-respected dive center, where everyone but me seemed to know exactly what they were doing. But I loved it. I was finally livin’ the dream”. And after meeting and marrying a fellow Dive Instructor, Suzy, on a Bahamian beach, they set off on more diving adventures, together. Eventually they ended on Curacao, where they soon discovered an amazing, un-dived and un-loved reef, off the shore of a small, tatty fishermen’s beach. Who knew Curacao had such awesome shore diving - and so close to shore? With no boat engines to fix and clean! Within a few months, they bought a “Dive Bus” and set up the little Dive Bus "Hut" on Pierbaai, then set about cleaning the reef and the beach. Project AWARE supported their clean-up efforts right from the get-go, using one of their photos for their annual Clean Up ad campaign.
“Our Clean Up dives became regular events, with more and more divers and dive shops joining each time. Our little dive shop started as a PADI Dive Center. Now, in 2017 we are proud that it has become a PADI 5 Star, 100% PADI Project Aware & PADI Green Star Dive Center.”
Now, more than 15 years later, Mark is PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer leading a team of dedicated PADI Professionals, inspiring them and his customers to “protect, respect & enjoy” our oceans and its reefs, in partnership with Project AWARE.
“Diving may not be most people’s first idea of a career but it certainly turned out to be mine, and I wouldn’t change any of it, even if I could,… My mission is to keep on living the dream, encouraging people to fall in love with diving, on magnificent reefs that we all help keep beautiful”, says Mark
Article appeared in the Curacao Chronicle, April 3rd, 2017 and Dive News Wire, April 4th, 2017.