Saving Cashes Ledge: A Diver’s Perspective

In the summer of 2014, Lisa Smith picked up her Sunday Boston Globe and was taken aback by the beautiful images that graced the cover: waving forests of kelp, a rocky sea floor, and inquisitive fish who live at Cashes Ledge.

A diver for more than 9 years, Smith was immediately drawn in by the wonder: How could this tropical-looking habitat be in New England?

A Boston-area lawyer who works on peaceful dispute resolution, mostly in divorce law, Smith started diving as a way to enjoy the natural environment with her young son, who had requested diving lessons. She’s done most of her diving here in New England, where it’s not typical to see the gold, emerald, and red hues of an undulating kelp forest, or a uniquely red-colored cod. So she knows firsthand that Cashes Ledge is something special.

Smith wouldn’t normally consider herself a conservationist – her volunteer work typically revolves around human relationship issues, including domestic violence. But after seeing the images of Cashes Ledge, and learning more about the ways in which it continues to be at risk, she became active in the campaign to permanently protect this treasure.

Paying it Forward

When it comes to protecting Cashes Ledge, Smith says that from her perspective, it’s about preserving the country’s most important places, like America has done for more than a century.

“We have a responsibility to continue paying it forward,” Smith said. “Our parents and their parents were part of the generations that protected many important lands so that we can enjoy them today. And now we have a responsibility to protect our oceans for our children – and their children.”

Smith says she doesn’t want us to take for granted what’s under the surface; that diving in special places like this helps people feel a kind of connectedness and peacefulness that normal life typically doesn’t afford. The lasting physical and mental health benefits she’s attained from experiencing nature in this way, she says, are immeasurable – and that’s why special places like Cashes Ledge must be preserved for future generations.

A “Snow White” Experience 

Smith says she’s described deep-sea diving to her non-diving friends and family in this way: “It’s like that cartoon of Snow White, where she interacts with the creatures are all around her. They aren’t afraid of her. It’s magical.”

When we walk through the woods, she says, creatures hide from us. But underwater, they are all right there in front of us – we can be close to so many animals who watch us with curiosity but aren’t afraid of our presence. “It’s an idealized, almost unreal situation,” Smith says. “It’s really amazing.”

In preserving our natural resources at Cashes Ledge, we wouldn’t be initiating a ‘pay it forward’ movement: we’d be simply continuing one.

“We need to continue this path of conservation that was started before,” Smith said. “It shouldn’t stop with us. We need to keep this tradition going.”

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