At Action Scuba we run dive charters in Canada`s beautiful 1000 Islands every weekend, and we do most of our certification dives in and around this area. So we spend a lot of time at the bottom of the St Lawrence River, which is the second longest river in Canada and one of the longest rivers in the world. And what we see at the bottom of this waterway is lots of evidence of the general population`s misplaced belief that our rivers, lakes and oceans are a great place to dispose of garbage.
Not a single dive goes by that we don`t come across a bottle of some sort, often in the middle of the river. Sadly, usually a beer bottle. (Which could lead to a whole other discussion on drinking and boating, but we`ll save that for another time!).
As we do drift dives along islands, we can almost always tell when we`re passing a home or campground, because the river sides and bottom become littered with trash. We've seen everything from old satellite dishes to chairs and plates. Every year at our Underwater Beach Clean up at Centeen Park in Brockville, Ontario, we bring up garbage bags full of bottles, clothes, bikes, tires, old chairs, shopping carts, and all sorts of discarded rubbish. And then a few weeks later, we see more of the same.
The fact is that people have been using our waterways for years to dispose of unwanted items, some more harmful to the environment than others, but all of them unwelcome. Why does this continue to be socially acceptable? What is wrong with our culture that the same people who might hesitate to throw their empty bottle on the sidewalk in their local town will think nothing of tossing it overboard on the river or lake?
It is our hope that by running event such as our Beach Clean Up, where we invite all of our divers to join and learn, that we`ll help promote increased awareness of our environment. However, divers are generally the most aware of the need for clean water, so how do we bring the rest of the general population around?
We need a real change in the way the world`s population perceives our water resources. We`re please to be able to support the initiatives from Project Aware, but we hope that this will eventually spread to the non-diver community as well.
So the next time your non-diving friends ask about scuba diving, why not take a moment to ask them to consider using not our precious waterways as a garbage dump? We can only make the change one person at a time, so let`s start now.