Where Edmonds meets the Salish sea, the laughter of children rises into the air to meet the cry of gull’s overhead, and saltwater laps over sandy beaches in a soul-soothing rhythmic pattern of never-ending ebb and flow. Beneath those waters there is a glorious ecosystem waiting to be discovered.

Because of one woman and the young ambassadors for the ocean who she has been shaping for nearly a decade, you can enjoy the seemingly limitless life beneath without ever putting on a dive suit. Through their work, Annie Crawley believes hearts and minds will change and we can protect the oceans for years to come.

Crawley’s Dive Team is a dedicated group of youth who are learning to be underwater photographers, scientists and leaders to advocate for the ocean, combat climate change and overfishing, and change the trajectory of our oceans’ declining health. 

“It’s really important to understand that with every breath we take we are connecting to the ocean. It produces 50-70 percent of the oxygen in every single breath,” Crawley says. She was speaking to an audience in the historic Everett Theater on Earth Day, celebrating the accomplishments of her dive team, some as young as 11 and others now college graduates. 

Her team spends a great many of their dives in what they have dubbed “Our Underwater Backyard.” That backyard is the Edmonds Underwater Park and Marine Sanctuary, a 27-acre protected area and bird sanctuary that plays an important role in the Salish Sea. 

Danny Stephenson is 14 years old and he said he “never thought I would know so much about the Salish Sea.” He now writes stories for My Edmonds News. Crawley’s dive team members are also learning underwater photography and participating in scientific discovery dives. 

Eleven-year-old Fletcher Smith was excited to be accepted into the dive team.

“I have always been interested in scuba diving ever since I can remember.”

His Boy Scout diving experience in murky Couer d’Alene, Idaho waters paled in comparison to what he has seen in the dive park. His mother discovered the Dive Team and “she knew this is what I wanted.” He spent time in the pool learning to use a dry suit before diving into the sanctuary waters. There he saw ling cod bigger than him. He was hooked and has gone on 26 dives.

“I love my time with Annie and the whole team. In the future, I look forward to diving more locally and around the world," Smith told the Earth Day audience.

Santiago “Santi” Ramirez is the dive team’s 13 year old Master Scuba Diver. He began when he was 10 years old. Today he’s learning photography. It has “helped me express myself to others. Diving has changed everything about my life.” 

Check out Crawley’s video of Edmonds Underwater Backyard here.

Her YouTube channel is here.

The Edmonds Underwater Park website includes more information on the dive team.

Crawley’s Dive Into Your Imagination website, including information about her books, speaking engagements and more is here.