On the 31st of July the team at Sairee Cottage Diving set off on our regular dive against debris. The location this month was the in the channel between Japanese gardens and Koh Tao where boats find safe harbor from bad weather. We had cleaned in this site two months ago and were very interested to see how it compared now. After a briefing on the dive plan and how to safely remove debris the team descended and spread out in a line lead by two of Sairee Cottages newest dive masters Lillian and Mel. Paddy was present as always with an underwater camera to document the dive site and for the first time we also had Kris with an underwater video camera for further documentation.
We were happy to see there was a reduction in the amount of debris on the site, in all the team collected about half the rubbish of the previous clean up on this site. What was disturbing to see though was the composition of the debris. When we first cleaned this site we were under the impression that the rubbish would have come from Thai fishing boats but afterwards we started to think this was not correct. Now after the second time cleaning on this site we are sure the rubbish has not come from Thai fishing boats, but instead as it pains me to say it has come from dive boats using the site over night for safe harbor.
The composition of the debris included many condensed milk cans, lipton tea bag packets, torch batteries and the most heart breaking of all empty water bottles filled with cigarette butts!!! The cigarette butts were the smoking bullet, used on dive boats that allow smoking so that the butts don’t get thrown overboard. It seems like they have been anyway, in fact we found 3 fill ones in total.
What should have been a happy day for the team ended up becoming a dark day. Now faced with the problem of how to tackle this problem in an industry that should know better, that should be leading by example to the rest of the world.
But it’s not all dark clouds we now have the documentation and the next step is to start raising awareness about this problem. We ask all people coming to Koh Tao for diving to please hold your dive school accountable. Ask them about their policies for the disposal of garbage and what other ecological programs they have going on.