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Beach & Underwater Cleanup

As divers we have a certain connection with the ocean. We see both the complexitities and simplicities of the underwater world and how in some way, every form of life has some sort of impact on one another. The ocean in it’s enormity acts as one and has not only produced unimaginable forms of life but also has been able sustain life and prosper for BILLIONS of years, a fact alone that is mind blowing when you consider our short 200,000 year existence. No matter how big or small a life form in the ocean may be, for most of history, aside from natural disasters and catastrophic events, it was their inter-connected relationships that determined which species would prevail and which ones would perish. Now there is a new threat to not only the oceans of the world but all forms of life which once emerged from those very oceans. It is we who were given life by mother nature, in a cosmic instant have nearly destroyed it. We the human race went and got itself in big hurry and while doing so we seemed to lose touch with mother nature and neglect the four necessary elements neccesary for survival; earth, air, fire and water. We’ve excelled too fast for our own good and too few people stop and ask themselves, is this even progress. How much is too much? What can we do to restore or world and how long do we have before it’s too late?

We could talk about the issues and problems around the globe for days but for now let’s just focus on the issue at hand, our ocean. Every year millions of tons of plastics, chemical wastes, inorganic materials and all other forms of trash, you name it, it’s made its way into our oceans. We toss out everything imaginable rarely thinking twice about where it may end up and what consequences it may have. There is an island of garbage larger than the size of Texas floating in the Pacific and that’s not even the half of it. The garbage in our oceans have been slowly strangling and poisoning the very systems that gave us life and there is very few breaths left. Though theirs some optimism and several dedicated people around the globe that are devoting their lives to cleaning up the worlds mess and spreading education on what we must do to fix this global problem and how we can go about doing it, there is much work to be done. It starts with every individual making a decision and following through with action. It may be a enormous task but with a near 7 billion people, there should be no task the will of the people can’t handle.

Yesterday, Blue Season Bali as well a couple of the other local dive centres took part in a beach and underwater cleanup. There is nothing more unappealing then cruising on a boat in pristine crystal clear water to your favorite dive sites and seeing garbage floating on the surface. Unfortunately this is something that I’ve seen all too often not only in Bali but around the globe. As divers we see it first hand and luckily many of us have taken on the responsibility of doing something about it. A bunch of us took part in 2 dives just off the beach in Sanur and on both dives we came up with heaps of garbage. We found several plastic wrappers but also huge heaps of material and burlap bags, many of which had been there for a very long time. Some things I found took several minutes to unwrap off corals to not damage them further while other things were tangled in so bad that all we could do was cut off as much as we could. Both dives we came of with more trash then we could hold in our hands and although we felt good about what we had just accomplished, it was a little discouraging when we saw loads more wrappers drifting past our boat with the current and only being able to grab what our arms could reach. From there we went back to shore dropped off our gear and headed to the far end of the beach. The task was once again daunting. We all grabbed a garbage bag, spread out and started picking. In total we collected 20 full bags of trash and many of these were small wrappers and plastics. Unfortunately because the tide was in, we couldn’t get over to the mangroves, which was our original goal. Here is where most of the rubbish makes its way into the ocean. Every day when the tide comes in, it grabs the trash and pulls all it can back out with it. That combined with off shore winds makes for for an awful combination resulting in a 24/7 cycle of trash entering the ocean and this happens at coasts around the globe. Cleaning up those mangroves is definitely in our near future to go back and take care of. I want to thank the few people that saw our posters and came out to lend a hand. It’s reassuring to know that people do care and have not yet turned their back on the problem. Also thanks to some of the locals who also assisted and will now hopefully not let their beach return to the state that it was before the cleanup.

All in all it was a productive day but also a huge reminder of what needs to be done, not once a year or every couple months but every day. Bali is an absolute paradise don’t get me wrong but in all the beautiful places of the world, there are small areas that get neglected. I think a large portion of the problem with areas like this is a combination of the lack of local knowledge of what effects the plastics and garbage has as well as the lack of proper disposal systems implemented by their governments. Too many nations of the world may be happy with the systems they have in place with garbage disposal but need to remember that our world is one and if a country on the far side of the world isn’t living up to the standard, it’s still their problem. After all we share this earth, we share these waters and what each person or nation does, effects every other. My hopes are that the world wakes up and wakes up soon. There are so many people who love and cherish mother nature and do all they can to protect it, if the rest of the world shared those feeling, the world would certainly be a much better place. Every one person can make a difference. It’s time to do our part!

Some quick recommendations of some good documentaries is The 11th Hour, Blue Gold, A Force of Nature The David Suzuki Movie, CBC’s One Ocean 4 part series, SharkWater & The Cove. Also BBC’s Planet Earth, Blue Planet & Life Series.

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