It began as a light breezy day. I arrived at the Kaimana Divers shop and was met by two of my Dive Master Candidates (DMC) John and Morghan. We were on our way to Magic Island Ala Moana beach park to survey the afternoon dive sight and take some data one the debris found there. Everything was going according to plan, we got in the water on the east side of the sea wall, I had all the slates and reels in hand as we swam through the lagoon. We cut through a small channel between the rock pilings and were immediately smacked by waves and almost zero vizabylity, so I called the dive. I struggled to swim through the channel, finally I popped my head up to see where my DMC’s were. They had been washed on the rocks and were climbing the pilings. I instantly knew that that was going to be my fate so I prepared myself for impact. Just then a big wave came and slammed into me, sweeping my mask away in the wash. I still had the rest of my gear in hand and my reg so all was good. The next wave washed me onto the rocks, I called for someone to grab the slates and reels, but the following wave hit me to quickly and ripped everything from my hands. I slipped out of my fins and scampered up the rocks to meet my buddies. We caught our breath at the top of the piling and checked in, nothing was broken, or sprained. This was a miracle, we only lost dive slates, reel and 3 masks. Safety first everybody.
Plan B was now in effect. We went back to the dive shop and met with three members of an Eagle Scout Troop and their parents. These were our clean up divers for the day. Six in total plus four DMC;s. We listened to a talk from the project leader and Eagle Scout, John Stadler, about how the clean up dive was part of his leadership project. We went backk to Magic Island and did our clean up dive on the West side of the wall, where it was calm and protected. The dive was a huge success. This park is used by thousands of people every week and the amount of garbage that finds its way into the water is appalling. We found everything from plastic bags to lost paddles and even an electric buzzer. We also noticed that many of the cans and bottles we found were very old, meaning that after they enter the ocean they don’t just melt away, they stick around for a long time. This is the thing about debris, especially the plastics, they don’t break down very fast, in fact plastic just gets smaller and smaller and stays in the food chain, where animals mistake it for food. We also found that debris is great sub-straight for algae to grow on. Algae competes with coral for space on the reef, and it also grows much faster. Algae can actually smother and kill coral if there are extra nutrients or sediment in the water.
After sorting the trash we had 2 big bags of garbage, approximately 100m of fishing line, and a bag full of marine recycling. What we can do, especially wit the recycling is to take pictures of the bar codes on the cans and bottles, and track where this debris came from. This is going to be a side project that will go along with our data collection. Anything with a bar code can give us valuable information about it’s origin. If any of you find debris with a bar code, please send me a photo with it’s location and the date you found it.
If we all work together we can help determine where the marine debris is coming from. Then we can begin to discover the sources and make efforts towards eliminating that source. So if you see a plastic bag dancing down the road in the breeze, pick it up!