A whopping 12 tires were lifted from the reef alongside South Pier during the Dive Friend’s Quarterly Clean-up dive on Saturday, October 7th. Nearly 100 volunteer divers cleaned up under the South Pier, and final garbage tally was over 600 Kg of rubbish from the reef. The divers removed many smaller items this time around as the main focus was on fishing line. STINAPA Jr Rangers provided an on-land support team alongside the Dive Friends Bonaire crew; helping divers in and out of the water in addition to the sorting and counting process.
A beautiful, sunny morning greeted the crew and volunteers at our Dive Inn location! Upon arrival, volunteers signed in, picked-up their BBQ raffle tickets and received a free tank of air! Dive Friends’ newly appointed Clean-up Captain Caitlin Hale carefully instructed the divers not to remove any living creatures from the reef and to leave items behind upon which coral had begun to encrust. She also explained how to correctly remove fishing line without damaging delicate creatures such as sponges. Discarded fishing line routinely entangles and kills birds, fish, turtles, and small mammals. People are urged to use bins to dispose of any unwanted fishing line and tackle to reduce the amount of line finding its way into the environment. Fishing line removal requires constant vigilance around all of the piers of Bonaire. The post-dive analytics team discovered that divers collectively removed approximately 6 km of line from around the pier during this clean-up, with much more left behind.
The reef alongside the South Pier was engulfed in bubbles as divers took on the arduous task of removing as much debris as possible. Each buddy team was issued a mesh bag for garbage collection and underwater the buddy teams became one massive group sharing the same mission. The divers snipped away at fishing line, collected fresh bottles of both plastic and glass, and some even made use of their lift bag skills: the positive vibe underwater was tangible.
Back on shore, the full mesh bags were delivered to the sorting station. The items were tallied and sorted to supply data to 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 1278 items from the reef! In addition to the 12 tires; we also collected 33 plastic beverage bottles, 79 pieces of plastic dishware/cutlery, 18 ceramic dishes, 163 gas bottles, 42 cans, 11 glass jars and 76 other glass fragments. A ‘dynamic duo’ used their lift bag to remove an entire AC unit as well as and a floor fan! You’d think in the heat of October here people would be more careful with their cooling devices! There were several clothing and shoe items brought up from the reef as well. We also removed 12 pieces barbed wired; including a stretch of wire fencing. Thanks to all involved, a portion of the garbage along the reef has been removed and disposed of responsibly.
Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis had the grill ready later that evening to provide meats and veggie burgers as well as a selection of beverages for a potluck BBQ in celebration of the morning’s efforts. A selection of beverages was also available, with the first drink on Dive Friends! Clean Up Captain Caitlin Hale took to the mic again with assistant Cary fly to announce the results of the garbage analysis. This was followed by the highly anticipated raffle. Sponsors for the event include: Bonaire Harbour, Bonaire
East Coast Diving, Caribbean Dive Trading, Between 2 Buns, The Brewery, La Cantina, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Selibon, Treasure by the Sea, Van Den Tweel, and Warehouse.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, January 27 th, 2018. 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/