Bunaken mangroves are not just beautiful to look at, they are also an important ecosystem that many other systems rely on, they’re excellent barriers for coastline protection against storms and erosion and they have the ability to store carbon. As the world’s coastlines lose more and more mangrove habitats, we need to try hard to protect the few areas that remain.
All around the world mangroves are under threat from deforestation and coastline development but they have another big problem – plastic! Plastic bags and ropes can get tangled and strangle branches if not removed in time and smaller plastics get stuck in between the roots polluting the habitat of crustaceans and fish. The plastic adds to the normal plant debris coming off the land which can stop the natural flushing of the mangroves and can change the salinity of the water. The water can eventually become too toxic for some animals to survive in. Needless to say, Bunaken mangroves are extremely important.
Rubbish floats through the mangroves’ branches at high tide and lands on the beach. We clean the beach in front of Two Fish Divers at low tide and often find single-use plastics like bottles; straws and snack wrappers. If you look a bit closer there are many small microplastics mixed amongst the sand and shells. Many of these are broken/worn down from erosion in the ocean and because they can look like algae often they get ingested by shrimp, fish, mammals, and birds. There is no nutritional value from this and the animal can starve if they eat too many pieces.
Pollution is a problem all around the world and Indonesia is no exception. About 1 million tons of rubbish leaks into the ocean every year from Indonesia alone. China was found to be the largest contributor in the world to marine plastic pollution with Indonesia coming in second. Indonesia hopes to reduce how much rubbish is going into the ocean by up to 70% by 2025 and there are now many conservation efforts to reduce how much plastic is used as well as clean up projects all around the country. Indonesia has some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world but plastic could damage that if the government doesn’t keep its promise to cut down the pollution. Indonesia might be the entry point for a lot of that pollution due to bad waste management but it is a global problem and the fingers cannot be pointed at a single country. Like most global issues it is a political and economical issue that needs to take priority at an international level.
This week is part of Project AWARE week (14 – 22 of September) which means we are thinking more about plastic, how it is affecting our oceans and beaches and what we can do to help. We also want to help Bunaken mangroves to flourish and remain healthy. As part of Project Aware Week we will be cleaning up the Bunaken mangroves in front of Two Fish Divers as well as picking up as much plastic and microplastics as we can from the beach. So far, on day one, we have collected about 10 kg of rubbish. If you find our Facebook or Instagram stories you can keep up to date with what we are doing every day this week. Our PADI Divemaster Intern Alex is helping organise beach cleanups every day and planning for a Project AWARE Dive Against Debris later this week.
Available for purchase at Two Fish Divers Bunaken we have reusable straws, stainless steel drink bottles and reef safe sunscreen to reduce your impact on the ocean and to help look after Bunaken mangroves! Every little bit helps keep our oceans cleaner and healthier for the generations to come.
Would you like to come and join us for incredible diving in the world-famous Bunaken Marine Park in North Sulawesi? For more information about diving, staying with us or taking your next PADI course in Indonesia, fill in the form below and we will get right back to you.
We look forward to diving in Bunaken with you soon!