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A man of depth

This Idaho postmaster is passionate about restoring coral reefs in the Caribbean

A man wearing scuba diving equipment floats under water
Hope, ID, Postmaster Douglas Lowe dives in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

My name is Douglas Lowe and I’m the postmaster in Hope, ID.

When I’m not working, I’m getting ready for my latest scuba diving instructor certificate by practicing in Lake Pend Oreille — a 1,150-foot-deep lake in Idaho’s northern panhandle. I also help teach safety basics to first-time scuba divers and specialty courses to seasoned divers.

I’m up at 5 a.m. every day. I live on a farm with my wife of 34 years, along with our many goats, geese and chickens. My wife is my support network. I couldn’t get any of what I do completed without her.

I’m originally from Southern California, and I first started diving in the Salish Sea in 1990 while serving in the Army. I’m now in the Army Reserve, which has allowed me to continue traveling, diving and experiencing diverse cultures.

My scuba adventures have since taken me to the Bahamas; Dominican Republic; Cuba; Jamaica; Key Largo, FL; and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to name a few. They’ve also made me a passionate advocate for coral reef restoration.

During a recent Army Reserve deployment to Cuba, I completed nearly 200 dives, most of which were on coral reefs. The state of health for corals in the Caribbean is dire. More than 50 percent of coral reefs globally have been destroyed or damaged since the 1950s.

Many people don’t realize corals are animals, not plants. I try to bring attention to issues such as coral bleaching, which researchers believe is caused by the temperature of the ocean going above 86 degrees. I have witnessed coral starvation due to chemicals from sunscreen and other products that may be weakening their immune system.

Seeing the health of living corals inspired me to develop a nonprofit program that partners with coral reef restoration organizations and the hospitality industry to combine efforts through recreational scuba diving.

The goal is to form an environmentally sound collaboration. As a result, my dives at coral reef restoration facilities have provided me the opportunity to make a difference — and not just watch from the shoreline.

“Off the Clock,” a column on Postal Service employees and their after-hours pursuits, appears regularly in Link.