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October 18, 2018

Hello Ben’s friends and family,

I wanted to share a project that I have been working on in the Philippines. I currently work as an environmental scientist for a mining company and have been working over the past few years rehabilitating local reefs that have been significantly damaged by dynamite fishing and other bad practices by the surrounding local communities. Last year we were able to establish a 130 Ha marine protected area and have been actively installing Reef Balls and propagating coral. The project has been very successful and we are seeing a significant improvement to the local marine environment which is great news for our oceans. Ben and I would talk about this project and he had a very strong interest in it. He was always interested in marine conservation projects all around the world, and his love for the ocean was an inspiration for me to further the conservation works we have been doing here. My last conversation with Ben was 2 days before his last dive was about this project, and he was very excited to learn more.

Last week we deployed 594 reef balls in to out marine protected area, and this week we have started to recover and propagate corals that have been damaged through dynamite fishing, giving them a second chance. As Ben was so interested in the project I decided to dedicate this reef to our much missed Big Ben. I have made a temporary plaque for now, but a permanent brass plaque will be made soon.

Ben was my instructor, my mentor, my friend and an inspiration for my marine conservation work. Although this reef is in the Philippines I think it shows Ben’s reach around the world, and all of our oceans are connected. I look forward to seeing this reef grow and hope it serves somewhat as a memory to Ben and his love for the ocean.  

The Check List

October 12, 2018

A few years ago at Seraya Secrets dive site, we had just finished diving and Ben was nearby preparing to dive with his student. He approached us quietly so his student didn't hear. He wanted to borrow my jet fins and boots, as he had left his behind at The Tec Room and didn't want to embarass himself by having to drive back to Tulamben and get them! He took the fins & boots and went diving, we then made up a humorous brief dive checklist for him on a piece of cardboard and placed it under the windscreen wiper of his dive van. Every time we crossed paths at dive sites after this, we would remind Ben " Don't forget your fins & boots". He told me a couple of years later that he still kept that checklist as a reminder, as he had never before forgotten his fins and boots!

See you underwater

October 8, 2018

Hi Uncle Ben,

Today I came to accept the fact that you had left us in this world. After one week of praying for a miracle, we know that you are now in a much happier place where you belong, the ocean you always loved.
We established a work relationship since 2013 and that had grown on to something special. You used to tease me by calling me "Uncle Alex", which I am still trying to find out why. But now I longed for you to call me that once more.
We have much respect and mutual trust between us. So much that I would like Rachel to learn scuba diving from you, if she ever wants to. I trust you to be a better mentor than I will ever be. But now, it seems I have some big shoes to fill.
I still remember doing all those early tech dives with you in Tulamben. You used to joke that crossing the road to get to the dive sites is more dangerous than the dives itself. I will always remember doing a 60m dive early in the morning and all you wanted was to look at some small nudibranches. 
But perhaps the best memory I had was doing a Free Diving course with you with the Spanish ladies! A veteran tech diver and a triathlete could not get any deeper than a school teacher on the course. What a joke!  
You had spent your last moments in the place you loved most, with you have the biggest smile and all of us covered in tears. In a way, I should not be feeling so sad about it, but I guess everyone you touched in your life can't help it. 
As the photo says it all "SEE YOU UNDERWATER". Memories forever. 
(Photo taken after Free Diving course, Tulamben 2017)

October 7, 2018

I did my first twin cylinder deep dive with uncle Ben,And he actually saved my life! I was nervous and was acting like a rookie! Things were getting ugly, But he noticed my anxiety, started writing a joke on my slate! And i felt calm and pulled myself together... Thank you uncle Ben. Enjoy your eternal dive

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