Blog post for South Pier Clean-Up July 8, 2017
An uplifting dive for all! On Saturday, July 8th, we gathered a huge group of divers and cleaned up under the South Pier during our quarterly underwater clean-up. We had 85 volunteers remove over 1200 Kg of rubbish from the reef. The highlight? We had a “Tire removal unit” deploy their lift bag skills to remove a large tire from the depths! 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!
The crew got an early start setting up the Dive Inn location, in anticipation for the arrival of the volunteers. Upon arrival volunteers signed in, received their BBQ raffle tickets, and received a free tank of air to set up! Dive Friends Planning & Logistics Manager Daniel Molenaar carefully instructed the divers not to remove any living creatures from the reef and to leave items behind upon which coral was happily growing. He 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. Divers found proof of this on their clean up dive, removing a deceased spotted moray eel which had become entangled in fishing line.
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is targeting the issue of stray fishing line with additional monthly clean up dives using tanks supplied by Dive Friends. Fishing line removal requires constant vigilance around all of the piers of Bonaire. The post-dive analytics team discovered that divers collectively removed roughly 2 kilometers of line from around the pier during this clean-up, with much more left behind.
As the dive teams descended on the site the view from underwater was quite amazing. One massive group effort, all working together to remove rubbish; anyone in need of a tool to cut fishing line was quickly helped by an eager volunteer swimming close by. A community of divers banding together to help save our reefs. It didn’t take long for the first divers to come out with full bags of trash. It is apparent after two successive clean up dives at South Pier, that this is a real trouble spot for pollution. Only one tire out of dozens made it to the surface.
On the surface, 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. Analyzing the trash removed provides crucial data to help in our fight to make a debris free Bonaire!
In total, we removed 1611 items from the reef! This included 25 plastic beverage bottles, 70 pieces of plastic dishware and cutlery, 12 ceramic dishes, 24 metal plates, 151 gas bottles, 38 aluminum cans, 22 metal bottle caps, 11 glass jars and 76 other glass fragments. We also removed 20 pieces of metal wire and barbed wired. Lots of clothing and shoes were also found as we collected 15 pieces of clothing plus 3 underwear, 4 sunglasses, 10 hats and 12 flip-flops. People seem to be getting a bit hot along this stretch of road; look out for the shirtless and shoeless near the pier! We even found some weird stuff like a tv stand and 4 spark plugs! Thanks to all our volunteers, all this waste is now off of the reef and has been disposed of responsibly.
What better way to celebrate all that hard work than with a potluck BBQ and raffle?! Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis hosted that evening; providing drinks and grilling up a selection of meats and veggie burgers. The guests brought a variety of side dishes and desserts, which made for some very content divers! Dive Friends Front Desk Assistant Veer Schutte with assistance from Abigail Petrich entertained the crowds with a speech summarizing the collection results. This was followed by the highly anticipated raffle. 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: Bonaire Harbour, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Caribbean Dive Trading, Coco Palm Garden, Ocean Reef, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Selibon, Treasure by the Sea, Van Den Tweel, Warehouse.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, October 7th, 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/