This afternoon, Adam and I were standing in front of six overflowing dive bags FULL of mucky, disgusting water bottles, broken plastic forks, torn up plastic sacks and fishing lines miles in length.. and we thought, THIS IS FANTASTIC!
It all started a few days ago when Adam and I were snorkeling off Karon beach near our apartment and we saw some trash underwater. Not a big deal, Adam went and picked it up…then we saw more trash, I grabbed it, more garbage, more collecting…This went on for a while and we started talking–since we came to this area of Thailand for playing in the ocean, shouldn’t we help maintain it?
So we picked up as much trash as we could carry, then came back and contacted a local dive shop that we had no connection to but had great online reviews. We explained the state of the reef and asked if we could borrow some simple supplies for an independent underwater clean-up–some scissors, some gloves, and a mesh bag.
We were overwhelmed by the results.
Phuket Dive Club responded to our email the same day, told us they would love to help out and to come by their shop for equipment. When we got there, FIVE other divers were there as well– the company had organized a reef clean-up and we were included! We aren’t traveling with our dive gear right now, but we do have mask, fins and snorkel, so as the divers cut fishing lines off the reef and sacked up garbage, we freedived down to the bottom and grabbed armloads of plastic trash for collection at the surface.
We were told by the staff of Phuket Dive Club that there are many areas off Karon and Kata beach that have very little trash, but the area straight off the south end gets trash pushed to it in a current, so to anticipate garbage loads larger than we could carry snorkeling.
Adam quickly put together a reef clean up garbage raft to float the trash —el Barco de Basura, as he calls it–consisting of two old life jackets, with two carabiners attached, a long line to hold them together and two used mesh dive bags attached to hold trash. It was a pretty clever little unit that sat at the top of the water as we alternated diving down to the reef.
And we had an added bonus–as we left the water, a mother and her daughters walked over to investigate our bags of barely decomposted waste. This turned into a quick lesson about the importance of keeping our oceans clean for her daughters. Our little plan of asking for a net to do a quick clean-up turned into a much bigger project. What a day!
So three hours and six mega bags of trash later, Adam and I have realized a fun, easy and FREE way to give back to new areas and communities when we travel. Our budget is small, but it is a good reminder that small actions in conservation have potential for a massive impact.
We want to thank the staff and volunteers at Phuket Dive Club for including our little efforts into your bigger plan–and getting out there to fight for cleaner oceans! It was so fun meeting you all. Hope to see you underwater again soon!
We had another chance to get Back Underwater in Gili Trawangan!