On Saturday, July 21, 2012, a veritable army of volunteers gathered at Dive Friends Bonaire at Dive Inn to clean up underneath Bonaire’s South Pier. Even though the weather was a bit rainy, the Dive Inn was filled to capacity with local and visiting volunteer divers overflowing out into the parking area.
Asko Zuidam of Dive Friends Bonaire addressed the group of 115 divers and explained what trash should be recovered and what should be left behind, as well as how to keep from damaging any marine animals. Sue Willis from the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) program gave an explanation of how to safely remove fishing line and announced the launch of a new project to help Bonaire’s sea turtles. The Fishing Line Project is running with sponsorship from the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and aims to reduce the amount of fishing line, hooks, nets and other debris found on Bonaire’s reefs; items which pose a great threat to our endangered sea turtle population.
After the briefing, the divers entered the water, at Playa Cha Cha Cha and swam over to South Pier. A snorkel team of children, guided by local volunteer Walt Bentsen, participated by picking up debris in the shallows along the shoreline. When collection bags were brought to the surface, Dive Friends crew and volunteers checked once again to be sure no marine creatures would be removed from the water. A team counted and tallied the trash to submit the data to the PADI Project AWARE Dive Against Debris program, and then disposed of it responsibly.
The South Pier of Bonaire is a working pier and also frequently used for fishing. It’s an interesting place to dive and is normally off limits. It has been targeted as an area of concern by Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire for fishing line and it was definitely in need of a clean-up. Items collected include: 188 glass bottles, 101 fishing lines, 187 pieces of random plastic, 79 glass fragments, 41 pieces of rope, 43 beverage cans, 54 plastic cups, 34 plastic caps, 2 CDs and much more. The total number of items collected was 863!
That evening, all participants and their families were welcomed to a Pot Luck BBQ and raffle at the newly renovated Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. Dive Friends Bonaire and Van Den Tweel Supermarket provided drinks and main courses, while participants supplied side dishes. Sponsors for the event include: Selibon, BonPhoto, At Sea Restaurant, Ouray Sportswear, Deep Blue Gear, Dive Shades, the Bonaire Marine Park, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, East Coast Diving and Your Scuba Store.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, September 22nd, 2012.