As divers, our deep fascination of the underwater world has no doubt created a unifying love for our oceans. With climate change having a severe impact on our oceans, it is also important to acknowledge how we, as humans, also have an impact on the health of our oceans. As a traveller, I have noticed the huge issue of plastic waste here in South East Asia, where I’m based. And although it is easy to get discouraged with problems that seem out of our control, there are groups around the world today showing us that although humans have created the immense amount of waste, we are also capable of cleaning it up!
More than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our oceans by 2025. Everyday trash is entering the sea at an alarming rate. Marine debris not only makes our beaches less attractive, it’s dangerous to sea life, hazardous to human health, and costly to our economies. Marine animals become entangled in debris, and can even mistake it for food – often with fatal results.
Divers, swimmers and beach goers can also be harmed by marine debris or its toxins. The environmental damage caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at US$13 billion a year! In this article, I will share how the community of divers around the world are fighting back against the onslaught of trash.
If you have seen the news lately, you are probably aware of the 633 divers who recently set the Guinness World Record for the largest underwater cleanup ever. Outfitted in wetsuits and scuba gear, they cleared nearly 3200 pounds of debris from the shoreline of Deerfield Beach, Florida.
According to Mental Floss, the cleanup was part of the Dixie Divers’ annual pier cleanup. For this year’s event, the group broke the previous record for largest underwater cleanup set by a team of 614 divers in the Red Sea four years ago.
The waters off Deerfield Beach are home to reef that supports vibrant marine life. Now that divers have beautified that patch of ocean, the city of Deerfield Beach plans to dispose of the waste properly and recycle as much of it as possible. This will no doubt benefit the reefs, and the local community!
(Photo from The Epoch Times)
This amazing group of divers is not the only one working to clean up our oceans!
According to the Nottingham Post, a UK family who share a passion for scuba diving have made it their mission to protect the country’s lakes and rivers by clearing them of rubbish – all for free.
They are Warren Palmer his wife Michelle, and his stepson Anthony Hanstock who set up Underwater Hunters last year to combine their love for scuba diving with helping to protect the environment.
The family of professionally trained divers take to lakes, rivers and canals to clear the waterways of general trash and plastic waste. The discoveries they have made in the murky waters include bottles, cans, plastics and even dead sheep, with their biggest find being a vintage motorbike.
Warren and Anthony try to get into the water once a week, and have covered lakes and rivers across the UK including the Lake District, Church Wilne Water Sports Club in Draycott, and the Erewash Canal.
(Photo by Nottingham Post)
These are great examples of groups of divers organizing together for a good cause. When we hear about the amount of waste that is discovered on the ocean floor, it helps to understand the scale of the problem.
How Can I Help?
This is the best question to ask! While we can all do our best to reduce the amount of waste we accumulate as individuals, there are also plenty of ways to help clean the oceans. And you don’t need to break any world records to do it!
The organization Project Aware has several ongoing projects to help support this cause, and has many options for certified divers wanting to take part in cleaning up our oceans. Their project, Dive Against Debris®, is the first and only marine debris survey of its kind that focuses on scuba divers reporting types and quantities of debris found on the ocean floor. They claim that by using and sharing the data reported by Dive Against Debris volunteers online, they are helping bridge the gap in knowledge and build convincing arguments to lead to change.
So far, they have supported a global community of debris activists who have reported and aided over 5,597 entangled marine animals. Because of their divers, more than 50,000 community members in over 114 countries have removed over 1.3 million debris items from the ocean. Check out their website ProjectAware.org for more information on how you can report debris collected and even organize your own cleanups!
Organizing Your Own Cleanups
As we have seen, cleanups can have a real impact and do not need large groups to create. If you live near water, chances there is an opportunity to do an underwater cleanup, but it can be difficult knowing the logistics. The diver’s magazine DiveIn, has a great step by step guide on how you can organize a dive cleanup in your area.
The process basically involves getting in touch with your local community of divers and getting them on board in different ways. If you do not have the time to organize an event, I would suggest researching to see if there are any cleanups happening in your area. Even if you are not a certified diver, beach cleanups are also highly effective as the trash on the beach will eventually make its way into the ocean.
If the news about climate change and the impacts it is currently having on our planet concern you, then good! It is concerning. The good news is that we have the capability to make change that anyone can get take part in!
About the Author
I’m Harmony Rose, a California native passionate about exploring the world and sharing the craziness along the way. I’ve traveled across ten countries so far, and do not plan on stopping any time soon. This blog is a way for me to use my passion for writing and photography as a way to share my adventures!
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