Why we should pick up rubbish on our dives
When we think about scuba diving, we also think about beautiful and pristine aquatic environments full of colorful corals and plenty of fish happily swimming around. But, to your surprise, as you dive you may find something else in the waters too. Shockingly enough, the world has been so polluted, that rubbish doesn’t avoid even the most beautiful dive sites. You see, even if the garbage is disposed on land, it frequently ends up in ocean waters, where it can cause harm to aquatic life.
There is rubbish in the oceans. That is a fact. Another fact is that Indonesia is among top 3 world’s biggest polluters. From all the various types of marine debris, plastic waste is by far the most concerning issue.
The question now is, what will you do if you see rubbish while scuba diving? Will you pick it up or pretend that you didn’t see it? Hopefully, your answer would be that you’d pick it up…
As a diver, and you might recall this one from your PADI Open Water Diver course, you have the opportunity or even the privilege to be an ambassador of the underwater life. Not only you can help protect and keep the diving locations clean, you can also set an example for others to follow. The thing is that if everyone would be ignorant of our planet being polluted every single day, the waters, in which we dive, will soon all be filthy and what is worse - with damaged ecosystems.
Read more about this problem here: Plastic waste in Bali
If you dispose of your trash properly on land, because you like living in a clean environment, this behavior should be kept while diving as well. Unfortunately, there are many people that like to turn a blind eye when it comes to trash, so this is why sooner or later you will encounter it when diving. Of course, if you are only a student learning to scuba dive during your Open Water Diver course, no one expects you to swim around the dive site picking up trash. First you need to focus on your training and gaining enough experience and confidence. Even later, if you see a piece of garbage, don’t pursue it if this would put you or your buddies in a risky situation. Another rule of thumb is, that if the trash has been in place for a longer time, the aquatic animals might already make it their shelter and maybe corals or plants have found their home on it. In that case, leave it be. Also, when you do pick up trash, mind the marine life and try not to touch or disturb it.
In our OK Divers diving resort in Padangbai we believe that by behaving responsibly, we will inspire others to follow. If we happen to spot a piece of trash while diving, our dive instructors or guides won’t turn their heads away, but rather go, pick it up and put it in the pocket of their BCD. There is no shame in it, moreover if they are not the ones who caused the trash to end up in the dive site. We certainly don’t take our guests diving so that they help clean up the ocean, however it is always very heartwarming to see other divers lend a helping hand.
So, if you notice something out of place, like trash, be an example too and go pick it up, whether you are an instructor or a fun-diver. There is no shame in doing so, because it is a proof that you care about the environment and do not agree with the filth existing in the beautiful reefs. If you think that your action will not change the behavior of other people, you are wrong. Change comes from each of us, through our actions and behavior. If you do it, others might do it as well, through the power of example. And they will teach others to do it too and slowly, our planet might start being a cleaner place.
Of course, we’re well aware that by only picking up the already existing trash, we won’t make the planet less polluted. If you’re interested in ways, how to reduce waste in general, read our post about zero waste life style.
All in all, if we don’t start doing something about the things that bother us, they won’t go away by themselves. Ignorance is not a solution, because if that trash is not picked up, it will linger and multiply, polluting the reefs that have been around for a much longer time than humans. Coral reefs are fragile and sensitive, but they are a crucial part of the underwater ecosystem. So, you see, as a diver, you have the power to change something and make your diving environment a cleaner place. We encourage every one of you to become a diving role model worth following.