Meet our Supporters: Catherine Anne Hoelzer – PADI Divemaster, photographer, physician associate and passionate nature lover
In a new series of blog posts, we will be featuring some of Take 3 for the Sea’s most ardent supporters from around the world. Today, we meet Catherine Anne Hoelzer who lives in Aqaba, Jordan. Catherine is an adventurous and well-traveled woman whose passion for diving, photography and protecting the environment converge in her current job leading dives in the beautiful underwater world of the Red Sea.
Take 3 for the Sea: Hello Catherine, please tell us about your life journey that led you to your current home in Aqaba, Jordan?
Catherine Anne Hoelzer: Well, it’s been quite a journey! I grew up near the water in Newport Beach, California then spent a few years in Hawaii where I fell in love with snorkeling. Subsequently my husband and I spent many years working overseas doing humanitarian work, most recently in Sudan. Unfortunately, we lost everything we owned in the war there and had to leave the country. We ended up in Jordan where we found that we loved diving so much that we got qualified as Divemasters. During the COVID lockdown, we pivoted to conducting clean-ups. Since then, we’ve collected more than two thousand tonnes of debris from the waters around Aqaba.
T3: Why are you a supporter of Take 3 for the Sea?
I love the simple message of ‘take 3’. I came across the organisation on Instagram which I use to share my underwater photos and videos. In my time in Jordan, I’ve seen how much the reefs and sea grass have been impacted by human activity, as well as by some natural disasters. I was devastated to see some of my favourite dive locations destroyed so I made it my goal in life to do what I could to preserve the beauty of the underwater world for the next generation.
T3: I understand you did an underwater clean-up for Take 3 recently. How did it go?
CAH: We removed about 20 kgs of rubbish, including lots of very old plastic that was buried in the sand, so it felt good to get rid of that. We also removed some old and rusting fish traps after freeing the fish in them. These are illegal but unfortunately, they are found all over the reef.
T3: What type of rubbish do you typically find on your clean-ups in Aqaba?
CAH: Just last month five of us did a clean-up at the local marina where we removed 200 kgs of rubbish including close to 1,000 plastic cups. Jordanians drink a LOT of Arabic coffee, which always come with a single-use plastic cup of water so those are the most common plastic items we find on our dives. Along with the usual plastic bags, cigarette butts, bottles, and cans, of course.
T3: Do you think your clean-ups are influencing people to reduce their use of plastics?
CAH: Absolutely. We’ve had kids join our beach clean-ups, and people often express interest and assist us during our activities. While times are tough in Jordan, and plastic pollution might not be a top priority, we’ve already removed over 19,000 items from 18 dive sites, and we’re committed to the cause – I’m not going to stop now!
T3: Catherine, you are an inspiration! Keep up the good work.
Discover Catherine’s mesmerising underwater world through her Instagram.
Know of other passionate Take 3 for the Sea supporters we could spotlight in this series? Reach out to us via email@example.com. They might become our next featured Take 3 for the Sea supporter!