People of the Water

People of the Water (POW) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to change people’s relationship with our aquatic world through exploration, education and conservation. 

Founded by Cristina Zenato after twenty-five years of living and working in the Bahamas, contributing to major projects to protect oceans, sharks and caves, the People of the Water is organized to widen the conduction and distribution of training, education, research, and studies relating to water, ocean and environmental issues, affecting both the people and the animals of said environments.







Board Of Directors

Cristina Zenato

A professional diver since 1994, Cristina is an ocean and cave explorer, a shark expert, a speaker, writer and conservationist. Among her qualifications, Cristina is a PADI Course Director, NSS-CDS Advanced Cave Diving Instructor and a TDI mixed gas instructor and she specializes in the Shark Handling courses and interactive dives

First introduced to the beauty of Ben’s Cavern by her mentor and inspiration Ben Rose she returned to it years later as a full cave diver and explorer and she volunteered her time to produce a more current map of the system.

Through that work and other exploration work she found some interesting facts about our island cave systems and the impending need to protect them.

Her field work with sharks and caves allows her to bring to the surface a unique prospective on life with a conservation approach to our relationship with this Planet and other people.

She works as Director of Training at the Underwater Explorers Society and shares her time between teaching at all levels, primarily professionals, working with sharks and exploring and mapping different systems on this island and other locations in the world.

Her biggest passion is teaching and sharing with the new and younger generations, offering support, training and mentorship.

Cristina has been inducted in the Women Divers Hall of Fame,  the Explorers Club, the Ocean Artists Society and she is a Platinum Pro 5000 recipient.

Mike Young

Mike Young grew up in the mountains of Colorado. At a young age, he became an extreme skier, avid hunter, mountaineer, and extreme motorcyclist. For Mike, no adventure was too big! Mike’s sense of adventure probably started with the Alligator farm that his parents own, as only he and his brother, Jay, were available to play with the saurian beasts.

Mike first learned to scuba dive in the early 1990’s and made his first open water dive’s in a sinkhole on the edge of the Kalahari desert, in Africa. This combined with his adventure for extreme sports and wrangling Alligators, made it natural for him to gravitate towards technical diving. He was soon involved in deep cave diving and his interest for sump diving grew.

Mike’s desire for diving and exploring areas previously unseen by human eyes, has led him to build and customize many of his own products. As a creative person and inventor this wasn’t a problem for him, but it was certainly necessary as many of the required components were not available for purchase at the time.

Mike has been influential in designing products for many companies, including HOLLIS Gear. Other dive related innovations include the GEM semi closed rebreather technology, which was marketed through KISS Rebreathers.

In October 2012 Mike became the third owner of KISS Rebreathers. With his extensive back ground in machining, product development, and testing, it was a natural move for him to make. Mike has since developed the KISS Orca Spirit, KISS Spirit LTE, GEM Sidekick SCR, GS CCR.

Kewin Lorenzen

Originally from Denmark, three years ago, Kewin decided to leave his engineering job after completing a three months internship in Fiji with Projects Abroad, where he fell in love with diving. In January 2018 he decided to move to Freeport, Grand Bahama, and work as a professional diving instructor. 

Sharks were the initial reason that sparked his decision for the change and he is currently working primarily with Caribbean Reef sharks as a feeder, handler, and videographer, but has had the opportunity to dive and experience numerous species. 

Once in The Bahamas, he discovered a passion for cave diving. After completing his cave diver training in January 2018, he collected hundreds of hours in the local systems. 

He is currently a KISS Sidewinder rebreather diver, a cave explorer, and a surveyor. After participating in the completion of the exploration and survey of three different systems, he is currently working on advanced survey projects as our team member. In the summer of 2020, he discovered two new cave systems on Grand Bahama, currently under exploration and survey work. Kewin’s engineering background is vital in the POW team’s work. 

Kewin is determined to keep exploring and discovering new systems; his ultimate goal is to provide educated and detailed information to promote these passageways’ conservation and the land surrounding them. 

Alannah Vellacott

“Alannah Vellacott is a Bahamian marine ecologist and is the Research Assistant at Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS). Alannah has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and a minor in Biology from South Dakota State University. Alannah is a former Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar (BES Scholar) through Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF). This awarded her a full scholarship to attend the Island School in Eleuthera and participate in a paid 6 month internship at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. Since then, Alannah has made the rounds working and volunteering for non-profit environmental conservation organizations including the Cape Eleuthera Institute, BREEF, the Bahamas National Trust, Community Conch and The Nature Conservancy. Alannah is a PADI OW Scuba Instructor and has 11 years of experience in scientific diving in marine ecology methodologies. Alannah has participated in shark and reef health research and has also been a part of coral and conch research here in The Bahamas.

In her role as Research Assistant at PIMS, Alannah travels throughout the Bahamas conducting mostly Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment coral and fish surveys as well as establishing, maintaining and out-planting from coral nurseries. Alannah also assists PIMS scientists with their research which can range from Nassau grouper fish aggregation studies to coral spawning and long-spited sea urchin studies.”

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”

Baba Dioum

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so we may fear less”

Marie Curie

“There is no such a thing as “away” When we throw anything away it must go somewhere”

Annie Leonard

A man was walking on the beach one day and noticed a boy who was reaching down, picking up a starfish and throwing it in the ocean.  As he approached, he called out, “Hello!  What are you doing?”  The boy looked up and said, “I’m throwing starfish into the ocean”.  “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the man.  “The tide stranded them.  If I don’t throw them in the water before the sun comes up, they’ll die” came the answer.  “Surely you realize that there are miles of beach, and thousands of starfish.  You’ll never throw them all back, there are too many.  You can’t possibly make a difference.”  The boy listened politely, then picked up another starfish.  As he threw it back into the sea, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

Loren Eiseley

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