JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When people think about Jacksonville, most don't think about off-shore fishing and diving on reefs? Joe Kistel is on a mission to change that.
When he's not at a computer, he's often diving, running his reef non-profit organization called TISIRI, or shooting underwater video.
He is taking that video, shooting more of it, and is creating a marketing video campaign called UWJax, which stands for Underwater Jacksonville. "It's a web platform to create awareness for offshore Jacksonville opportunities," Kistel said.
He's talking about fishing and diving. The videos will pop up in search engines when people look for places in Florida to dive and fish. "We have an abundance of (marine life) here. We have unique life forms that you can only find here in Jax, and the average person is innocently ignorant of it," Kistel noted.
For instance, did you know there are all kinds of sponges here? There is also a WWII wreck that is teeming with wildlife. "Many of the videos will focus on particular reef sites," Kistel said.
Offshore diving and fishing is a multi-million dollar industry in Florida, "but I guarantee you right now that not much of that is going to Jacksonville," Kistel said.
Visit Jacksonville, the areas tourism agency, is getting behind the effort by supporting the UWJax online video campaign.
"For every percentage we can attract of the fisherman and divers, that's a direct benefit to Jacksonville because now we're getting a piece of the economic pie." Kistel said.
Kistel hopes getting more people underwater will also encourage them to protect the wildlife underwater.
"You always get a gee whiz feeling underwater and I want to share that gee whiz feeling with everybody."
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