That’s one of the biggest issues facing the fight against marine debris. So much of it is just never witnessed by most of the population, and it’s hard for people to care about something which they literally do not see as a problem.
The power of community: working together to make a difference
As scuba divers, we get to experience so many mesmerising and thrilling sights underwater, but we are also the only witnesses to the great harm we’re doing from above the surface. This side of things can be disheartening, even depressing: “This is terrible, but I’m just one person. There’s nothing I can do.”
The power of community is that we don’t have to work alone. We have a global network of passionate ocean advocates who have the gear and the expertise to make changes on a local level. We can remove plastic that might be eaten by a marine mammal. We can remove the fishing line which was choking a sponge. We can make sure an octopus isn’t exposed to toxic chemicals by making its home in a tin can. Every dive can be a clean up dive, as long as you’re prepared with line cutters and a mesh bag.
Every dive can be a clean up dive
Diving regularly in the spectacular Jervis Bay marine park, with threatened species such as weedy seadragons and grey nurse sharks making their home here, I now organise monthly ocean clean-up dives. We’re building a community of passionate local divers who can share skills and stories, and diving with a Divemaster for free makes these trips accessible to a wider range of divers. In July, we took the Dive Jervis Bay boat Avalon out to the Tubes, a popular fishing spot which we knew needed attention. The 13°C water didn’t slow us down from collecting 1,000 metres of fishing line from the rocky reefs below the cliff face. Heading back to the shore, we had a real sense of accomplishment looking at the deck covered in trash which had recently been suffocating marine life. We also found 30kg of lead sinkers, which we’ll be turning into dive weights.
Finding fascinating items and contributing to international databases
Over the past few months we’ve found snorkel equipment, torches, so much fishing gear, and even a drone. It’s always fascinating what we find, and the information we collect goes into international databases and will contribute to change on an international scale! As a diver, I feel it’s my duty to care for the environment I love. If we don’t, who will?
Our duty to care for the environment we love
Dive Jervis Bay clean up shore dives run on the last Monday of every month. If you want to come, please book your free spot on Dive Jervis Bay or call +61 2 4441 5255
This article was originally published in Scuba Diver ANZ #52.