On the 13th February we reached the three quarters mark of our 100 days Clean Up marathon. With 75 days past there is much to look back on.
But first things first: beginning of December the Seaventures Diveteam started the biggest Clean Up attempt that the Island of Mabul has ever seen. The idea was to go for a 100 consecutive days to clean up our House Reef and see how much of old and new debris we can fish out in this time. We estimated that we could collect 500kg of debris and data about it for Project AWARE by the end on the 8th March. So we started highly motivated. Within one week we managed to bring up already 100kg. Diveteam and guests were helping as much as they could and as much as their daily dive schedule permitted. During the first weeks it was not really hard to find debris. No matter in which direction one started the dive, there was always plenty of garbage to be found, old and new, expect and unexpected things, buried in the sand or trapped between the corals. We identified plastics, beverage cans and beverage bottles (both glass and plastic) as the worst culprits. No day passed by without having to pick up at least several pieces of these items.
Looking back it was every day also a little bit of a treasure hunt. Who knows what is there to be found that might be useful while diving? Within the 75 days we can assure that the only useful thing that we found were weights for diving and once a weightbelt with four weights hanging on it. On the household side there were plenty of useful and curious things: an umbrella, countless clothing like pants for children and adults, bras and blouses, pieces of carpets, brushes, a bed sheet, a toilet brush and a kitchen sink were only a few examples. Last week we even fished out two toys and a child’s backpack. It also seems that many divers visiting our dive site use toothpaste to defog their masks. We found many of them between the corals.
It was soon very clear that everything down there was not only the result of less careful divers (lost masks, mouthpieces and finstraps) and the resorts around the island (food wrappers, cans, beer bottles). It seems that the villagers living on Mabul tend to through their everyday garbage into the ocean (diapers, razors, whole trash bags full of everyday stuff found).
After 75 days we cracked the 500kg mark already, 537.6kg total. Our most successful day in terms of weight was the 4th February: we fished out 32.4kg during three dives. Since day 70 we noticed that on three of the four sides around Seaventures it is actually getting harder to find any debris. After so much effort it is a good sign and we hope that we can manage to clean the remaining side within the next 25 days.
We would like to thank our guests that participated in the 93 dives done over the past 75 days and hope that our future guest will be similarly motivated.
Written by Brigitte Zintz (PADI Staff Instructor Seaventures Dive Rig) – initiator of Project AWARE 100 Days Clean up Project