September is Dive Against Debris Month, which is part of a movement started by Project AWARE to clean up marine debris around the world that is harming the underwater environment and animals who call it home. Created by divers, the month-long event was formed to increase current efforts to clean up trash.
“The idea is to get scuba divers around the world to collectively clean problem areas in their locales, collect data and images, and report on what they find,” the event description stated. “These findings can be used to identify at-risk ecosystems and possibly affect policy changes.”
The concept of cleaning up underwater environments is nothing new, but Project AWARE has added features that help the entire process remain organized. Although the group promotes Dive Against Debris year-round, it dedicated September as the month of focus.
More than six million tons of marine litter enters the ocean each year, and making sure this project is well advertised may help decrease that number or at least motivate people to get out into the water and help clean up.
“Trash not only injures and kills many marine animals and plants each year, it also destroys habitats and threatens our health and economy,” the website stated.
According to the FAQ page of the website, “Marine debris – or trash in our ocean – has risen to the top of the marine policy agenda. Scientists, resource managers and governments increasingly recognize it as one of the most serious ocean issues of our time. Divers are qualified to describe the reality of these issues underwater, take actions beyond land, and foster a sense of urgency for global ocean protection.”
The organization provides survey kits, group dives, dive planning advice, and a place to record your dive. For those interested in getting involved, there are several steps that must be taken. First, take the Dive Against Debris Hero Pledge, which includes participating in clean-up events at least four times per year, reporting the data found to Project AWARE, then spreading awareness about the cause through social media platforms. A T-shirt will be sent to the first 50 people who take the pledge.
After taking the pledge, divers need to read through the materials in the Debris Survey Kit. This includes the survey guide, a data card, a marine debris identification guide, and a surveyor checklist. The bread and butter of involvement is obviously the dive, and people can either choose to plan their own dive or attend one that is already being advertised by checking out the Action Zone Map. The last step in the process is reporting what was achieved on the dive and adding it to the action map.
“Over the past two decades of underwater conservation, we’ve learned that divers are true leaders in ocean protection,” the website stated. “We’re ocean heroes numbering in the millions across the globe. We believe together our actions will make a huge impact and will help to rescue the ocean.”
Check out the Project AWARE Foundation video below about Diving Against Debris.
Image copyright iStock/DJMattaar