9-21 Dive Against Debris

Bigfala hip blo doti.  That was just the glass bottles piles…

There are several international scuba diving organizations. They provide standards for training, standards for certifications and other such goodness. The one Jason and I are certified through (PADI) also has an environmental component called Project AWARE. They help organize events that support the oceanic environment. One of those missions is the Dive Against Debris. Basically, a local dive shop sponsors everyone to go dive and pick up litter. Then, they weigh it, categorize it, count it and report the numbers to PADI. PADI tracks the information and I presume uses it for things or makes it available for research purposes, though I’m not actually sure.

Pulling up the tires. 
Last Saturday, Big Blue ran a Dive Against Debris. Jason and I joined in, because, why not? And it was a great chance to dive and do good things at the same time. The deal was show up, gear up and get in groups then each group takes a different stretch of ocean floor. We each had a burlap sac that we filled with whatever garbage we picked up. When the bags were full, we surfaced and handed them over to the boat, got new bags and went back down. Anything too big to pick up, we marked with a emergency sausage (big tube thing that floats) to come back for later.
ALex being shocked by the rubbish
I told the other PCVs about it so we had a Peace Corps squad, which was kind of neat. (It was right around the Close of Service Conference for the guys leaving this year, so a lot of people were in town.) Most of us on the team were not experienced divers, so we went with a dive master. Not that they thought anything was going to go seriously wrong at 8 meters deep, but I’m ok with having a bit of extra security.
The dive went well. The visibility was about 1 meter, because every time you picked up something off the ocean floor it sent sand and silt everywhere which then couldn’t settle because you were busy kicking your fins and sending more sand and silt into the water. We picked up 402 kgs of garbage, including four tires.
I lost my hair tie diving.  Also, who uses film strips?
The most interesting thing about the dive was how it changed my perception of the ocean floor. Generally when you dive, the goal is to not touch anything. Sunscreen residue on fingers blocks the photosynthesis of coral, squishy things are easily damaged, spiky things cause damage and fish are just too quick to touch. This time, I was supposed to go and pick things up. It totally changed the experience of being underwater. I think it added a dimension that my experience had so far lacked and that made me pay a lot more attention to the experience as a whole.
I very much enjoyed doing the dive against debris. I will totally go on the next one.

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