This week my Divemaster course included some environmental projects including a Project AWARE Dive Against Debris, and we even spotted a blue Ceratosoma Sinuatum or Miamira Sinuata during the dive. We often spot nudibranchs on Bunaken clean ups but this guy was a rare color and a treat to see.
An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean every year! Recently a new record was set for the deepest ever manned sea dive and plastic was found! As a diver, you see the damage up close and personal. On the way to a dive site or underwater, most of us will see plastic or some form of trash. It’s an unsettling sight to see in some of the most beautiful places in the world!
During my PADI Divemaster training this week I took part in a Project Aware clean up of one of the dive sites in Bunaken. In less than one hour 9 divers pulled 37 kilos of trash out of the water. A small amount compared to what is in the ocean but every little bit helps. The clean up was quick and easy to organize with some of the guests staying at Two Fish joining in with the dive guides.
Everyone was handed mesh bags, gloves, and a cutting tool and we made our way to the boat and off to the dive site. The main jetty in Bunaken is a high traffic area where most people arrive when they get to Bunaken so this is where we try to clean. As we get into the water we start collecting trash right away, we use our knives to cut line wrapped around coral and we find plastic, metal, clothes, shoes and a variety of trash. I even find an old dive boot!
Some of the trash has been in the water so long coral starts growing in the rubbish and in some areas we see marine life has made homes in parts of the pollution. Along the way we stop and enjoy the sights of the still vibrant corals and the amazing sea life you find surrounding Bunaken, we even spot a Nudibranch that no one has seen before, later it was identified as a Ceratosoma Sinuatum (Miamira sinuata) but the color was an uncommon one. Among other marine life, we see a lot of nudibranchs on Bunaken cleanups and we are careful to relocate them before bringing the trash up.
After surfacing we make our way back to the boat with our bags as full as we can get them. When the last bags and divers are on the boat we ride back to sort out the trash into different categories. Each bag is weighed then we separate the rubbish into piles. We have plastic, metal, rubber, glass, cloth and mixed materials. We count out each piece and place into the appropriate pile. After the data is collected it is uploaded into the Project Aware database at www.projectaware.org where you can input and view the data from all the divers around the world hard at work removing trash from our beautiful ocean.
In the next few days as part of my training, I will be organizing and completing my own Project Aware cleanup. My goal is to arrange a beach clean up as well as an ocean clean up. It’s a great feeling to help clean this ocean that I love to visit as much as possible. Next time you are on a fun dive grab some plastic or any piece that doesn’t belong. You could be saving a turtles life!