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A Rare Visit with a Mission

Star-gazing at midnight and long daily dives among incredible sea life might sound more like vacation in an earthly paradise than an environmental mission. In fact, Bio-Sphere Expeditions offers both at once.

Modeled on the methods of Reef Check, an NGO working in over 90 countries and territories to promote protection of coral reefs, the week-long trips along the coast of Oman and the UAE expose interested divers to local underwater wonders while training them to collect data that can help protect the marine life.

October participant Nasser al-Khanjari recalls the delights of a night dive when he swam within arm’s length of sleeping fish, and schools of tuna that were “strong and gentle” swimmers. The dives mix play with work: after learning to identify fish, invertebrates and other indicators of reef health, participants gather information on them and submit this data to Reef Check headquarters in California.

The reward is twofold: having a once-in-a-lifetime experience of natural beauty, and knowing that thanks to your visit, it has a better chance of remaining after you’re gone.

For more info – Reef Check’s website

Bio-Sphere’s website

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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