Stuart Cove

Stuart Cove

Hometown: Bahamas
Accepting the award: Stuart Cove

Exposure in film, video and photography is important to recreational scuba diving; with more exposure, more people care about protecting the underwater world. Stuart Cove first got involved with the film industry in 1979, as the owner of Coral Harbor Divers in the Bahamas, working as a diver on the James Bond film, for Your Eyes Only. He began learning about the movie business, taught the cast and crew to dive, and even wrangled sharks for the film. The money he earned allowed him to buy his own boat, and continuing work eventually allowed him to create Stuart Cove’s Diving operation.

Stuart has also created shark feeding experiences for the general public, allowing him to promote better understanding of these fish, and create reasons for people to care about sharks and protect them. Stuart has created experiences for more than 50,000 people, turning these divers into shark advocates. He has also lobbied on behalf of sharks in the Bahamas, resulting in the Bahamas becoming a shark sanctuary. It is estimated that each shark has a tourism value of $250,000, and that shark experiences have contributed more than $800 million to the Bahamian economy in the past 20 years.

Stuart has worked for the betterment of diving, by creating mooring systems in the Bahamas as well as sinking more than 20 artificial reefs in the area. These artificial structures aggregate fish, and take the fishing and diving pressure off the natural reefs, helping to preserve them for more divers. He has also worked to bring kids into diving, focusing on children in the Bahamas, giving them an opportunity to dive like he did when he was young. The “Children on a Reef” program takes kids from open water (entry-level) diver right through becoming an instructor, giving them a livelihood and a way to continue the work with sharks, reefs and diving, started by Stuart.