As recent documentaries and reports in the media have shown there is a systemic problem with regards to the way we are using and abusing our oceans. Each year tens of thousands of marine species are killed by either eating marine debris or becoming entangled in it and all of this marine debris comes from one source, humans. This is one reason we joined in with Project AWARE Week – The fight against plastic in Bunaken.
The figures are mind blowing – there is an estimated 1.15 to 2.41 million metric tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, that’s equivalent of one garbage truck being dumped into our oceans every 60 seconds(!). Once in the ocean the debris (most of which is plastic) accumulates on coastlines and at the centre of gyres, the largest of which is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and covers an estimated 1.6 million square kilometres (which is 3 times the size of France!).
Helping to tackle this systemic problem is Project AWARE, a nonprofit organisation working with volunteer scuba divers across the globe to remove debris from the underwater environment and raise awareness amongst the diving (and wider) community about the necessity to protect the natural environment. In 2018 Project AWARE launched its first annual AWARE week alongside their partner PADI to mobilise the dive community to be citizen activists for a cleaner ocean through a series of conservation activities around the world with a focus on keeping the ocean clean and healthy; and, in 2019 the second annual AWARE week took place between 14th -22nd September 2019.
As a 100% AWARE resort the team here at Two Fish Divers Bunaken massively got involved! We held a series of daily debris collections for our staff and guests to get involved in along our fringing shoreline; these included a daily focus (such as Mangrove Monday, Tiny Tuesday (where we timed how long it took us to fill a 500ml glass with micro plastic… just 54min!) through to Straw Saturday).
Our efforts here at TwoFish culminated in a Dive Against Debris on 22nd at the main Jetty on Bunaken Island, a site which is located to the south east of the island and can be subject to extreme currents in all directions which carries and deposits debris all over the coral wall beneath the jetty.
After a Dive Against Debris briefing from Alex (our Divemaster Trainee) the team of four divers went in the get cracking at removing as much debris as possible. What was astonishing was how quickly the marine environment colonises any debris that falls – especially the sea squirts which we found grafted onto most of the fishing lines we came across (so we naturally left these lines alone). Alongside the fishing lines we also found some rather unusual items including two old skool cassette tapes, a pair of ‘official’ Mercedes Benz sunglasses, a CD (which still worked) and one football sock!
After 60min the dive finished and we weighed our collected debris which came out at 14kg (in one hour!). After weighing our debris we began the job of sorting it out and recording what we’d found – plastic fragments were the main items of debris collected with a total of 80 fragments collected, there were also high numbers of fishing lines, food wrappers and cloth fragments. We also found 3 small crabs <1.5cm in diameter which we released unharmed.
After bagging up our debris to be taken away we logged onto the Project AWARE Week Dive Against Debris section of the website and input our data. It’s suuuuper important that once a survey is completed people report where they did their dive and what they found, that way when repeat dives of the site are undertaken Project AWARE will be able to track the state of each site over time.
To coincide with Project AWARE week Maia became a Dive Against Debris Specialty Instructor and Alex completed his Dive Against Debris Specialty which means we have a new diver eager to protect our oceans by continuing the fight against plastic and Bunaken has its very own Dive Against Debris instructor ready to teach all our Divemaster Trainees and other guests that want to learn more about the what, when, where, and how of marine debris and Project AWARE’s efforts to tackle the problem head-on.
I think I can speak for all of the dive team at Two Fish Divers Bunaken when I say we are blown away by the effort our guests (on their holidays) and staff put in each day, a massive thanks to each and every one of you, and, were happy to let you all know that the legacy of the AWARE week is going strong as beach cleans continue to be a daily ritual here in Bunaken. It’s been really inspiring to see how much everyone involved recognizes the importance of us all doing what we can to help protect our essential big blue.
If you’d like to learn more about the work Project AWARE undertake and how you can get involved go to www.projectaware.org/DiveAgainstDebris
Remember, protect what you love.
For more information or to make a reservation to dive and stay with us at our beautiful Two Fish Divers Resort on Bunaken Island, fill in the form below and we will get right back to you.