It’s that time of year again! We just hosted the final quarterly underwater clean-up for 2016. This past Saturday, October 22nd, we cleaned-up Front Porch after the large Regatta festival that occurred the week before. We had 101 volunteers remove almost 800 Kg of rubbish from the reef. In addition to the numerous dive teams, we had several on-land support teams and the Dive Friends Bonaire crew to help divers in and out of the water as well as sort and count the garbage!
This time we chose to do something a little different and the entire event was held on Coco Beach by the Front Porch dive site entrance. We set up a large tent and delivered all the tanks and supplies to the beach. Everything was ready when the volunteers showed up to sign in and hear the briefing. The dive teams quickly headed into the water and in no time at all the first bags of trash were being sorted and counted.
Dive Friends General Manager Carolyn Caporusso carefully instructed the divers not to remove any living creatures from the reef and to leave items behind on which coral was happily growing. She also explained how to correctly remove fishing line without damaging delicate creatures such as sponges. 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.
Once on the surface, our on-land support teams sorted the trash and every piece was counted for Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program. They also responded quickly if any marine creatures had accidentally been collected and returned them to the reef.
In total, we removed 1855 items from the reef! This included 322 pieces of plastic, 210 pieces of rubber (21 tires!), 111 bottle caps, 128 glass bottles and 148 glass fragments. We also have a lot of people walking around with missing clothing and shoes as we collected 34 pieces of clothing, 167 flip-flops and shoe fragments. We even found some weird stuff like 1 condom, 1 diaper and 4 bones! Thanks to all our volunteers, all this waste is now off of the reef and has been disposed of responsibly.
That evening, all volunteers and their families were invited to a potluck 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: Treasure by the sea, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Oasis Guesthouse, Coco Beach Bar, Bonaire Villa Makoshi Penthouse, Villa Onima, Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), King Kong Bonaire food truck, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), Selibon, Van Den Tweel.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, January 28th, 2017. If you won’t be able to attend, join us every first Wednesday of the month for the Dive Against Debris Specialty course.
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.