Dive Friends Bonaire has been hosting our world famous quarterly underwater clean-up for over 10 years. This past Saturday, July 9, 2016 we had a grand total of 121 volunteers!! In addition, we had on-land support teams of the Dive Friends Bonaire crew to help divers in and out of the water and our non-diving team to sort and count the garbage!
The cleanup site for July’s clean up dive was Town Pier. After signing in at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Yellow Submarine and receiving a safety briefing, the mass of volunteers gathered their gear and drove down the boulevard to the clean-up location. Not long after the first divers entered the water, the first bag of trash was brought to the surface.
The volunteers were very careful not to remove any living creatures and left those items behind on which coral was happily growing. They also took extra care when removing fishing line as not to damage any delicate sponges nearby. Once the trash was out of the water, a team of surface volunteers sorted and counted all the items for Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program. They also ensured no marine creatures had accidentally been collected before disposing of the waste responsibility.
The clean-up dive was very successful: over 2491 items of marine debris were removed! The most significant items removed were 331 pieces of fishing line, 419 glass bottles, 589 glass fragments, 88 cans and 103 cloth fragments. Other items included: 14 bandaids, 12 hats, 79 paper/cardboard fragments and 13 paper bags.
Discarded fishing line poses a serious threat of entanglement and drowning to endangered sea turtles, as well as other marine life. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is targeting the issue with additional “line clean up dives” with tanks supplied by Dive Friends, but it requires constant vigilance around all of the piers of Bonaire.
On Saturday evening, after the clean-up dive, all volunteers and their families were invited to a Pot Luck BBQ and raffle at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. Dive Friends Bonaire (with help from our sponsors) provided drinks and main courses, while participants supplied side dishes. Hamlet Oasis is also the location of the Debris Free Bonaire plastic collection container, so volunteers learned more about the coastal clean-up initiative targeting marine plastic that washes ashore on Bonaire’s east coast.
Sponsors for the event include: Beachcomber Villas, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Van Den Tweel, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Selibon, La Cantina Restaurant, Freestyle Pop Up Restaurant, Trident Dive, Ocean Reef ITC Bonaire and DAN World.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, October 15th, 2016.
Additional information about the cleanups is available at: http://www.divefriendsbonaire.com/eco-activities/. All are welcome to join in.
For more information about the Debris Free Bonaire initiative, visit www.debrisfreebonaire.com.
For more information about Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, visit http://www.projectaware.org/project/dive-against-debris.