There are many ways to fight back against pollution and on Bonaire, a little Dutch island less than 160 kilometers off the coast of Venezuela, this takes the form of scuba diving cleanups.
While Bonaire may be known for a lot of things, it is perhaps best known as a snorkel and scuba diving destination thanks to crystal clear waters and fringing reefs that can be accessed just a hop, skip and a jump from the shoreline.
Every year thousands of water-loving enthusiasts travel to this southern location to enjoy warm weather, world-class windsurfing and some of the best shore diving in the epic marine park that surrounds this island.
And given that Bonaire’s number one selling feature is its marine environment, you can understand why it’s important to protect it.
In Bonaire, local dive shops and environmental groups are invested in the beauty and conservation of their waterways. Scuba diving cleanups have become a regular occurrence as organizations aim to keep their marine animals safe and coral reefs as pristine as possible – after all, it’s this marine ecosystem that drives people to visit this little slice of paradise.
This past Saturday, January 26th, 2019, we had the opportunity to join Dive Friends along with several other co-organizers for a quarterly Dive Cleanup in their sailing club marina. The cleanup initiative brought together roughly 127 divers of all different skill levels.
Armed with mesh bags and full cylinders of air provided by Dive Friends, volunteers took to the water collecting as much trash as could fit in our bags for 45 minutes.
Overall, the dive cleanup brought in approximately 700 kilograms (1,540 lbs) of trash which was sorted into plastic, glass, metal, rubber, wood, cloth, paper, and mixed material. The clean up covered an underwater area of 4,000 square meters (4,3055 square feet) at depths ranging from 1 – 30 meters (1 to 100 feet).
The most problematic marine debris was plastic fragments, glass bottles, and metal scraps. The most unusual item found was a pair of fireman’s pants.
Sadly, there is no place left untouched by pollution – and as you can see Bonaire is no exception.
Plastic bottles, leftover fishing line, car tires, metal scraps… It never ceases to amaze me the amount of junk that people will carelessly discard into the water.
On some of our first dives at iconic Bonaire dive sites such as Salt Pier, we were very surprised at the trash that was left discarded on the bottom.
It really made me realize that whether I’m traveling the world or back home in Canada – human neglect and ignorance remains the same.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – pollution is a problem for our planet.
Cleaning up the damage that has already been done, like we did this weekend, is only a small piece of the puzzle. Awareness and education – like teaching people to pick up after themselves and be smart consumers – help tackle our pollution problem at its source. But this doesn’t happen overnight.
For now, just because you’re not a scuba diver doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. When it comes to our oceans, we need all hands on deck, whether you’re picking up a plastic bag, empty beer can or plastic straw, every little bit counts. It all means one less piece of litter in the environment, and ultimately one less piece of litter that ends up in the sea.
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Sony Alpha a6500 24MP mirrorless camera with a 16-50mm lens, able to shoot 4K movies.
Ikelite TTL dual flash sync cord attaches two strobe’s to the underwater camera housing.
Suunto Vyper Novo wrist scuba diving computer with USB
Compact underwater scuba diving hand reel with a 150ft of white line on the spool
SHOOT 6″ Underwater Dome Port for GoPro Hero 6/Hero 5/Hero(2018) Black Camera Diving Lens Hood Housing Photography with Waterproof Case Accessories
The Cuticate floating dry box is a waterproof sports container perfect to fit money, ID, cards, keys and more. The case is small, portable, compact, and comes with a lanyard clip hook to take with you as you scuba dive.
Diving lens filter kit for GoPro HERO 5/6 which enhances colors for underwater video and photography conditions
Dry glove lock system that accommodates all hand sizes
Bare SB System Mens Full Under-layer
13-inch inflatable dive buoy with a 12 by 11-inch scuba diving flag surface marker
Ikelite photography strobe DS161 with NiMH rechargeable battery pack
Canon Macro Lens EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM – non Image Stabilised
Capture amazingly smooth shake-free video with the GoPro Karma Grip
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Black Mares Cruise Roller Tauchen bag, perfect for scuba diving and traveling
Bare drysuit trek boots designed for rocky shore entries, boat decks, and boat ladders
The Sony SEL90M28G FE 90 mm f/2.8-22 Macro G OSS Standard-Prime Lens for E (NEX) Cameras.
Capture amazingly smooth GoPro footage in the air with the GoPro Karma Drone
GoPro HERO6 Black Camera
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD Large Aperture Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital DSLR Camera + 32GB Memory Card + Photo4Less Cleaning Cloth.
Mini blue scuba diving tank key ring with brass pick tool and o-rings
GoPro dual battery charger conveniently charges two HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, or HERO camera batteries simultaneously
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod and Bag with adjustable-height legs and rubber feet
DUI heavy duty dry suit gloves with yellow liners available in sizes: S, M, L, XL
Suunto SK-8 wrist compass with bungee straps, faster stabilization, and enhanced readability
Black Mares Dragon Scuba Diving BCD
Ikelite aluminum digital camera tray with dual handles
Scuba diving 4ft neon yellow surface marker signal tube with “Diver Below” print
The Hydra 5000 WSRU is an all in one photo and dive light with wide, spot, red, and UV modes
Dive hands-free with a diving flashlight glove. This torch holder has a universal adjustable wrist strap scuba and is made of superior nylon material, which means it’s durable and comfortable to wear.
Ikelite Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 underwater camera housing in white
Bare Sports 5mm men’s wetsuit made with elastek full-stretch nylon-2 and neoprene celliant liner infrared technology.
Flexible Lightweight Portable Tripod for Projector DSLR Cameras and Go Pro
Bare drysuit drawstring scuba gear bag the perfect alternative for transporting a dry suit to-and-from the dive site
Sigma MC-11 mount converter lens adapter (Sigma EF-Mount lens to sony E cameras). Essential photo kit contains Altura photo rapid-fire wrist strap, small lens pouch, cleaning kit, and microfiber lens cleaning cloth.
Bare 7mm thick elastek dry suit hood
Ikelite underwater macro lens casing is comprised of an acetyl body with glass front and can hold lenses of 4.37 diameter x 3 inches (111 x 76 mm)
3PC curved armband glow in the dark slate.
Rechargeable Ikelite NiMH battery pack compatible with Ikelite’s DS125, DS160, and DS161 strobes.
Black scuba diving turtle fins
Bare 5mm evoke women’s full suit designed by Bare’s all-female design team. The suit has technically, innovative celliant infrared technology which increase circulation, body warmth and performance.
Compact scuba diving finger spool with 150ft of white line and a 4-inch brass double-ended clip
Ikelite compact ball arm for quick release handle
If you’re not quite ready for the expense of big lights, this little video light goes perfectly with any GoPro setup