Plastic In Our Oceans
Our oceans are being over run with garbage. This statement is true whether you are looking at the Atlantic from the Statue of Liberty, to the Pacific from Chile or the Indian from one of the many Islands in South East Asia. Plastics have found their ways into the ocean’s greatest currents now forever circling and descending to the depths of the ocean. Whether your beaches are clean such as on the East Coast of Australia or strewn with debris all around Hawaii, the truth is evident to a mere few. Have a peek at this video at how to decrease your plastic here. If you want to see the beach clean up adventure, just check it out here!
Scuba divers see what many of the population can ignore. So we, as scuba divers are the ones which need to do something about it. In Cambodia where the rubbish is large and the bins are few, many items end up in rivers and eventually the sea. While some organisations such as the Otres Eco Community attempt to clean the rivers, stopping many of these rubbish streams at the source, a lot still ends up in the ocean. Whether these are items that have been thrown overboard, blown from land or sailed across the oceans there have been very few clean ups around the coasts.
Reef Dive Resort Clean Up Dive
This is evident when a 45 minute scuba dive brings up enough rubbish for six people to carry, with them still agonising over the garbage they can see littering the ground during their ascent. Reef Dive Resort welcomes any diver who has had over 30 dives to come join them on their fortnightly clean up dive. This dive is offered at a discount to encourage customers to join the Reef Dive Resort team to help minimise some rubbish.
A clean up dive begins just like every other dive, except all participants have a mesh bag with them and there is usually a shorter dive time. This is to ensure the divers do not overwhelm themselves with rubbish and ensure everyone has a larger safety margin of air in case of entanglement or similar dangers. Tom walked us through how the dive would go, briefing us on our priorities of what we are looking for and the method of getting some of the heavier pieces out of the water.
As soon as we jumped into the chosen dive spot I found a large amount of fishing nets and bottles entangled in between some coral. A mere 5m away there was a giant anchor with a long rope trailing with the current. It took a significant of group effort to combine the two piles of rubbish into one. We used the ropes of the fishing nets and lines to tie the pile together. One rope was then used to attach the pile to a 15l container (as we did not have any lifting bags) which Tom then carefully filled with air and it rocketed to the surface. The boat boys were waiting for the container to emerge and went over to drag up the pile of garbage onto the boat. This allowed the rest of us diving to continue the search.
Considering in the first five minutes of the dive we already collected and sent up a large amount of rubbish, we were anxious to see how much more we would find. Our mesh bags quickly filled up with beer cans, single use cups, tent covers and unidentified plastic pieces. We also found another two anchors, that we could not manage to bring up, and many, many disused fishing cages.
We ascended feeling like we accomplished something, but slightly disheartened by all the rubbish we could still see with our arms overladen. There is nothing better than diving with a purpose, and while every dive is a clean up dive. (For the small random pieces of debris you find). When the whole purpose of a dive is to find and remove rubbish from a dive site, it is extremely satisfying knowing youre making a difference. Even though we will need to return to these dive sites many times over again to even make a dent in the amount of garbage we saw there.
I would like to thank Reef Dive Resort for allowing me to participate in this, and several other environmental projects. The artificial reef, coral nurseries and coral monitoring are all incredible projects aimed to help Cambodia transform into a more environmentally friendly and marine preserving nation. Marine conservation is a vital step and hopefully we can fight to get some protected marine zones were fishing isnt allowed : decreasing damage to coral, eliminating fishing nets stuck in the reef and allowing the fish population to bounce back!