Dive Friends Bonaire has been hosting our world famous quarterly underwater clean-up for over 10 years. This past Saturday, January 28th, we hosted the first Clean-Up Dive of 2017 at Yellow Submarine and Karel’s Pier!
Once again, we have a fantastic turn out with 120 volunteers in the water! Of course, in addition to that, we had several on shore crew members and volunteers helping to collect, sort and count all the waste.
Like the past few years, our January clean-up site was Karel’s Pier. Everyone met up at our Yellow Submarine location first to receive a detailed briefing about how to safely remove trash. Then everyone grabbed their tanks and equipment and headed down the boulevard to the pier. Almost as soon as the divers hit the water, the first bags of trash were being brought up.
The volunteers had been carefully briefed not to remove any living creatures or disturb trash that had been down there long enough to become someone’s home. They were also very careful when removing fishing line as it can easily cut into delicate sponges if the proper techniques are not used. 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 double checked all the garbage (especially beer bottles) to ensure that no marine creatures had accidentally been collected before disposing of the waste responsibility.
As usual, we had a wonderfully successful clean-up dive! We removed 2527 items of marine debris from the reef. This included 209 plastic cutlery and dishes, 88 pieces of fishing line, 53 straws and 218 other plastic fragments. As Karel’s Pier hosts a lively bar and restaurant, we also found 174 aluminium beverage cans, 641 glass beverage bottles, 44 ceramic cups and plates, 442 glass fragments and 1 menu. Other items included: 6 tires, 1 pair of rubber gloves, 2 cow bones, 1 screw driver, 24 fireworks, 54 pieces of rope, 73 cloth fragments, 11 pieces of clothing, 7 towels, 2 sunglasses and a bikini top. One lucky diver found a $20 bill and a slightly less lucky diver found a gun!
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.
After everyone had showered and changed out of their dive gear, all the volunteers gathered for a Pot Luck BBQ and raffle at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. With the help of our sponsors, we provided drinks and the BBQ meat, while all the participants brought their favourite 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: Between2buns, Bonaire East Coast Diving, DAN World, La Cantina Restaurant, Karel’s Pier, Oasis Guesthouse, Ocean Reef ITC Bonaire, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Selibon, Trident Dive and Van Den Tweel.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater clean-up is scheduled for Saturday, April 8th, 2017.
Additional information about the clean-ups is available on our Eco-Activities page. All are welcome to join in.
For more information about the Debris Free Bonaire initiative, visit http://www.debrisfreebonaire.com.
For more information about Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, visit http://www.projectaware.org/project/dive-against-debris.