This week, we had our monthly Dive Against Debris.
More than 20 Divemaster Candidates, Divemasters and future IDC candidates joined our trainer Lee Nightingale and our Platinum PADI Course Director Guillaume Fargues for an underwater cleanup. Spread out in seven teams, the divers collected trash from our house reef for an average time of 38 minutes.
Why Dive Against Debris?
This program was launched by Project AWARE in 2011 and since then over 50,000 divers have participated all over the world, removing more than 1.2 million pieces of rubbish. The goal of Dive Against Debris is not only to cleanup the oceans but also to categorize and weigh the amount of trash lying at it’s bottom.
It is estimated than 70% of the rubbish entering the ocean will end up on its floor and that tens of thousands of marine animals are killed by marine debris with about 260 species affected.
The main killer is of course plastic and it represents over 60% of the trash in the oceans worldwide. It is pretty common to find plastic bags in the stomach of dead animals, sea turtles in particular. Entanglement in fishing nets and rope is another issue for wildlife.
The divers all jumped in the water and we decided to get in a line from East to West. Everyone went down at the same time. We had planned to go North and head back South after 20 minutes, thus covering a large survey area and preventing teams from crossing paths.
Dive planning takes a crucial part in this type of operation as we want to be as efficient as possible but we also prioritize safety. We set maximum depth and bottom ahead as usual but were are also limited by the rubbish we collected. Each diver was given a mesh bag – thanks to Aquamaster Koh Tao – and was told to come up with their buddy once the bag was full. Deploying a surface marker buoy was required, before beginning the ascent.
In the end, the team picked up 141 pieces of trash weighing a total of 34 kilograms!
Analyzing and reporting
The amount and characteristics of rubbish removed during a cleanup dive will vary through the year depending on weather, currents, tides and boat traffic.
Once back on the boat, a few members of the team started emptying the bags to identify all the findings. Using the Project AWARE Data Collection, we counted and categorized every piece. We even brought up 2 rash guards and a towel that must have fallen off the boats that are usually moored over the reef. 57 items were made of plastic, including plates and cutlery.
Eventually, we reported the data using the Project AWARE app. This helps us better understand the origin and causes of marine debris and gives a direction to look into, in order to prevent more rubbish from entering the oceans in the future.