Oceans are amongst the world’s most valuable ecosystems – they control the weather, clean the air we breathe, provide a living for millions of people and are home to more species than we can possibly discover in a lifetime. Most of us enjoy spending time in marine environments and many are fascinated by species such as turtles, sharks, manta rays, or whales. Yet, we keep polluting our oceans every single day. By now, there is an estimated amount of 5,25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the sea, from the surface all the way down to deep waters. Numerous areas are heavily overfished, coral reefs are degrading all over the world, and many of our most beloved marine species have become critically endangered.
As scuba divers, we have the unique opportunity to access parts of the ocean that others may never see – this also carries a certain responsibility. We can be the first-hand witnesses of pollution or diminishing fish populations in certain areas. We can educate and inspire others about marine species and the importance of their protection. We can be mindful about our own diving practices and make sure not to harm marine environments. We can advocate for marine conservation and be role models every day!
So, how does one make a difference?
Here at Temple Adventures, we make an effort to follow Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet. These do not only include pointers for mindful interactions with marine life, but also encourage divers to take action for ocean protection outside of the water. Our team is trying to contribute to conservation efforts in Pondicherry’s coastal area in several ways, ranging from environmental education to hands-on action.
Educating our Divers
Every person walking into our dive centre will receive some environmental education, regardless of their experience level. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a one-time diving experience or an advanced diver coming in for a fun dive – we will take the time to talk to you about environmentally friendly diving practices during briefings, courses, or casual conversations. Our team will also happily share more insights on artificial reef building and our ongoing research projects with anyone who’s interested.
Once a week, on Wednesday afternoons, we set out to Pondicherry’s Rock Beach for one hour of intensive beach cleaning. Trash is separated during collection and left in a secure spot to be picked up by the municipality later on. We always try to encourage passersby to join us and even have some devoted volunteers who show up every week! Recently, we have also started to join hands with other initiatives, such as the people from “Keep Pondicherry Clean” who have organised clean-ups at beaches, waterbodies, and mangroves for more than three years now. Although we can see a little improvement with every piece of trash we collect, it’s always shocking to see how much is still out there. That’s why we keep coming back every week and try to get our fellow citizens on board to create a larger impact.
Dive Against Debris
Last but not least, we take action under water. During so-called “Dive Against Debris” , we collect trash and carefully remove objects such as ghost nets and fishing lines from the ocean floor and reef structures. Oftentimes, we also find fish or other marine species entangled in those nets and try to release them unharmed. After returning from the dive, we weigh, separate & count the pieces of debris collected and report them to Project AWARE, which will add the information to their global map . These dives are extremely valuable; beyond improving the health of ocean ecosystems, the information collected can help to inform policy change needed for actions on a greater scale.
Since we are committed to the cause, we have now adopted our beloved dive site ‘Temple Reef’, the artificial reef which we have been building and maintaining for the last six years. This means that we are going to continuously monitor the status of the reef and collect debris on a regular basis, reporting to Project AWARE each month.
What can you do?
As divers, we can make a difference every time we set out to the sea. It starts by ensuring that any kind of trash we produce stays on the boat and is properly disposed of after returning to shore. Keep any kind of loose plastics (like food wrappers) in closed boxes and make sure nothing ends up in the water. Take some time during pre-dive briefings to remind yourself and your peers about the importance of being an environmentally conscious diver. Make every dive a Dive Against Debris and encourage your dive centre to Adopt a Dive Site. Get in touch with other initiatives in your area and join efforts in conservation actions – if there aren’t any, start your own!
Do you consider yourself an Ocean Warrior as well? We’d love to hear about your experiences!
If you would like to learn more about topics such as conservation, dive against debris, or artificial reef building, feel free to send us a message here or come by Temple Adventures Dive Center for a chat any time.