On Saturday, April 19, 2014, seventy-seven volunteer divers gathered at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Dive Inn for the latest quarterly clean up dive. The dive site being targeted for a “spring clean” was the South Pier. South Pier was definitely in need of a clean because it is a popular destination for fishermen as well as the main pier used for cargo deliveries and cruise ships.
Asko Zuidam of Dive Friends Bonaire provided a safety briefing to address what items should be collected and explained that anything with coral growing on it or creatures living inside of it should be left behind. He also gave an explanation of how to carefully remove fishing line so as not to damage delicate sponges or corals.
After the briefing, the divers entered the water in front of Dive Inn and swam the short distance over to the South Pier. When their bags were filled with marine debris, they brought the bags to the surface and handed them over to the Dive Friends crew who were working as shore support. Volunteers checked once again to be sure that no marine creatures had been inadvertently included. Then, everything was counted, tallied for Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, and disposed of responsibly.
Volunteers collected 352 glass beverage bottles, 33 cans, 136 pieces of dangerous fishing line, 2 hats, 1 cruise ship pass, 124 plastic fragments, 153 cardboard fragments, 9 shoes, 43 pieces of rope, 26 items of clothing and much more. A total of 1,494 items were removed from the marine environment. Luckily the only entangled bit of marine life was something that is unwelcome in the waters surrounding Bonaire. One of the fishing lines collected had a hook with a small lionfish caught on it. This invasive species is actively being culled from the Bonaire Marine Park.
All participants and their families were welcomed back for a sunset BBQ and raffle at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. Dive Friends Bonaire and sponsors provided drinks and main courses, while participants supplied the pot luck side dishes. In keeping with the spirit of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” Dive Friends Bonaire does not use disposable plates and cutlery, so the instructors and dive masters also spent a lot of extra time cleaning up after the clean-up.
Sponsors for the event include: Deep Blue Gear, Ouray, Bonaire Food Group, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Reef Safe Suncare, Body Glove, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Reef and Your Scuba Store.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, July 12th, 2014.