The issue of ocean pollution is enormously important for divers. When you are out on a dive, you rely on crystal-clear waters to be able to see the incredible wildlife and plants. If there is a high level of pollution, then the sharks and sea turtles simply will not be able to survive. The oceans of South Africa have been rated the 11th worst for plastic pollution in the world and 80% of this pollution has originated from land-based sources. If the ocean creatures are to thrive, then this picture simply isn’t sustainable. We need to raise awareness and help to combat ocean pollution from a grassroots level.
Cutting down the demand for plastic
If the customer demands it, then the manufacturer will make it. One of the first ways that we can cut down pollution is to simply stop purchasing plastic products. If you are going out for a dive or spending the day on a boat or the beach, then don’t buy a plastic water bottle to take with you. Invest in a reusable water bottle that you can use time and again. Instead of using plastic bags to carry your personal items, consider using a sustainable cotton tote bag or other eco-friendly beach bag. When you are purchasing your dive equipment, ask yourself if there is a plastic alternative that is more eco-friendly. It may cost a little more, but that is better than paying the ultimate price of the planet.
Help with the clear-up operation
Volunteering with beach clear-ups is a great way of helping to be part of the solution. There are regular “trash-bashes” in many of the coastal communities to pick up the array of litter that gets left on the beaches. There is also the International Coastal Clean Up, every year in September. Clean-C is another volunteer-led project that you can take part in to help reduce the levels of waste pollution on the coast of South Africa. You can also go it alone as a clean-up lone ranger. Download the Clean Swell app onto your phone and from there you can keep track of the trash that you have collected. This data is extremely valuable to the volunteer programs and research groups trying to battle beach pollution.
Continue sharing your dives
The sharks, turtles and other marine wildlife that you see on your dives are a reminder of how important it is to keep the oceans clean. You can use the photos that you take as a way of raising awareness of pollution, because something isn’t done about it, those incredible sea creatures won’t be there much longer. Share your images on social media, tell your family and friends about the experiences you’ve had diving in the beautiful South African oceans. Simply by reminding people how precious and fragile the ecosystem is, will help to raise awareness.
Ocean pollution is a killer and ultimately, it is the wildlife that will pay the price. Helping to raise awareness of the issues will mean that there is always a healthy habitat for the sharks that you see when you are diving.
By Jennifer Dawson