Dia Do Mergulho: 2013
By Frank Weetjens
Local people have very little if no chance to participate in most tourist activities. Dia do Mergulho (Diving Day) is a traditional event organized by the dive operators, corporate members of the Divers’ Association of Mozambique (AMAR ).
The aim of Dia do Mergulho is to create awareness among the local communities about the value of marine resources and the need for sustainable practices.
The dates for this years’ event will be 3 and 5 October in Inhambane and Vilankulo, and 4 and 5 October in Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane.
Over the course of this two-day event, AMAR combines informative presentations on the first day, with an opportunity for the members of the local communities, on the second day, to enjoy the experience of an ocean safari at a symbolic cost, or through tickets that are raffled off among the local students. The purpose is to let participants witness first-hand the beauty of marine animals in their natural environment. The event has lots of side-activities that are themed around sustainable dive tourism and conservation of the coastal environment. The second day traditionally includes a beach cleanup campaign, beach volleyball and football competitions, a gastronomic fair featuring local restaurants, an opportunity to experience breathing under water (in a pool), environmentally themed street theatre, and live music. (Though this is the general outline of the beach activities on day 2, some of the programming may be different, depending on the area of the event).
Though the programming of this year’s event is still ongoing, we can share some of the topics of the informative day already:
Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane:
Presentations by Dolphin Care Africa on the unique marine environment of Ponta do Ouro and how to care for it.
Workshop with Centro Terra Viva on recycling and on a second use of common waste products
Capacitation workshop -in collaboration with the University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM)- for the Community Fishermen’s
Councils on the value of marine resources, and possibilities for alternative means of income besides fishing, and on sustainable profit sharing in the Tourism Industry
Career day for all the students of the local schools about dive tourism; questions and answers session with Mozambicans employed in the Dive and Tourism Industry
In 2012 Dia do Mergulho took place simultaneously in Ponta do Ouro, Inhambane, and Vilankulo.
In Ponta do Ouro, 58 students took part in dolphin watching and snorkeling trips; three students signed up for ‘Discover SCUBA’ and the whole day was themed with a presentation on the need for environmental protection of Ponta do Ouro at Kaya Kweru Resort.
The weather conditions in Inhambane were quite challenging; as a result the ocean safaris could only go on until shortly after 10:00 due to strong wind. All in all, the dive operators, with fuel sponsorship from the local filling stations, managed seven launches. A total of 60 people from the local communities saw whales for the first time in their lives. Though the beach activities were hampered by the wind, the aerobics session and the theatre plays were well attended, and all participants had a great time.
The weather was excellent in Vilankulo, and Dia do Mergulho turned into a full-on beach party. The day started with a beach cleanup campaign that was followed by volleyball and football games. The sandcastles competition was a true success. A swimming competition was held, and various people also signed up for ‘Discover SCUBA’. One of the people who tried underwater breathing at Dia do Mergulho is now taking the dive master training, with support of Bitonga Divers.
Dia do Mergulho 2012 was a true success and many thanks go out to the sponsors for their generous support. The event will take place again this year on 3 and 5 October in various locations along southern Mozambique’s coastline. To find out more visit www.amarmoz.org or on Facebook ‘Dia do Mergulho’.