“Let’s talk trash…. Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.”
-Syliva A. Earle, The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One
For the last week and a half or so, I’ve been busy with my IDC course at Blue Corner Dive in Nusa Lembongan, soaking up lots of new information and learning to teach people how to dive. It’s been a lot of fun and I have fabulous instructors and two great classmates, but after a week in the classroom and pool, all three of us candidates were itching to get back in the ocean! Lucky us, on Saturday, we all got to participate in a Project AWARE Dive Against Debris (along with the DMTs and several members of the Blue Corner team). Some of you may know that marine conservation is a cause near and dear to my heart (so much so that I hope to make a career out of it somehow), so I was stoked to get in the water for a good cause. And even luckier for me, my job was to document our efforts as the designated photographer!
For our first stop, we went to Caring Sari, which is the adopted dive site for Blue Corner’s divemaster program. The dive site is absolutely stunning, and we were fortunate enough to have pristine conditions–clear visibility and no current to speak of. This gave us a great opportunity to focus on our task of cleaning the place up! It’s a popular spot for fisherman, so the most waste at this dive site is fishing line and nets. The Blue Corner team went to work with their knives and scissors to get as much of the line and net we could, along with any other errant trash. Jo and Steph took home the prize for the heaviest bag for sure, having dragged up a whopper of a fishing net.
After a nice relaxing surface interval and a tasty lunch, next it was off to Buyuk, the adopted dive site for Blue Corner’s IDC program. Buyuk is near a harbor, so it tends to be the recipient of a lot of trash from the boats. Although the current had picked up a tiny bit, conditions were still pristine, and the water crystal clear. With the little bit of current I wasn’t able to move around the group and get as many action shots, but we still were able to do some good work! And have some fun, of course.
But Buyuk was pretty clean! We ended up carrying away about 1kg of trash. It really is a stunning dive site, with gorgeous corals teeming with a huge variety of fish and sealife. But I’ll be interested to hear whether this dive site is affected by cyclical patterns. After all, busy season is coming, and I fear the harbor will bring more trash to this stunning place.
When we were done diving, it was all smiles back on the boat!
Finally, we made it back to the shop, where it was time to sort, weigh, and dispose of our take. Everyone who participates in Dives Against Debris across the world submits data to Project AWARE, which helps them keep track of the health of our oceans, how the amount of debris changes with seasons and local events (whether it be weather-related or based on an influx of tourism or other activities at particular times of year).
Overall, it was a great experience, and I think we all learned a lot and had a lot of fun in the process. It is great to make your dives count, and be able to make a difference in the marine ecosystem. And seeing the trash–particularly the plastics and remnants of consumer products–makes you think about how everything we do affects the health of our oceans and our planet. Even if you live nowhere near the ocean, those streams, rivers, and lakes all ultimately lead to the same place, and what we do in one place affects living creatures all over the world. Although these dives were pretty clean, I’ve seen tons of garbage throughout my years of diving that can never be picked up. It’s terribly sad, and I hate to think about how many beautiful sea creatures are harmed by our waste. So think twice next time you use that disposable plastic lid, straw, or water bottle! It may not always be possible to opt for something you can reuse again in the future, but every little bit helps! And if you’re a diver, check out whether there are any Project AWARE events happening at your next dive destination! It’s a great way to have fun and do your part.
After those great dives on Saturday, it was back to the classroom for more IDC studies. But my fellow instructor candidates and I did manage to sneak in one more dive–a dawn dive right in the midst of our EFRI training. And as luck would have it, we were great with not one, not two, but THREE molas–my first sighting ever. And while the photo I got wasn’t great, at least I have proof I saw it! It’s really hard to describe these fantastic creatures. Even having seen photos of them next to divers, their scale is still a shock the first time you see them. Nothing I’ve seen has ever seemed so massive. (Although I haven’t been graced with the presence of a whale shark yet.) And, as with any time I am awestruck by some gorgeous creature, the more I am reminded that every little bit we can do to save our seas comes one step closer to protecting them.
(Note: This file is for some reason not agreeing with this site,
but click through for the full-size version if you want a better look.)
Thanks for some great diving, Blue Corner!
Location: Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia
Date: July 1 & 3, 2017
Max. Depth: 130 feet
Total Bottom Time: 122 minutes
Dive Sites: Caring Sari, Buyuk, Blue Corner