On Saturday, July 13, 2013, volunteer divers gathered at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Yellow Submarine for the third quarterly clean up dive of the year. It was a beautiful sunny morning with perfect dive conditions, as usual for Bonaire. All of the participants collected their free tanks from the dive center and then assembled for the safety briefing.
The one hundred and twenty-two volunteers that signed in were a mix of local residents and visiting tourists who all wanted to help the environment of Bonaire. 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 at the waterfront boulevard and swam a short distance over to Kralendijk’s Town Pier. It was quite a mixed group and they spread out around the entire pier in buddy teams, filling the water with bubbles. 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 statistics, and disposed of responsibly.
The Town Pier is a working pier used by cruise ships and container ships and is also a very popular place to fish. Therefore, it has a large amount of items that have blown overboard and unfortunately, a lot of discarded fishing line. Discarded fishing line poses a serious threat of entanglement and drowning to endangered sea turtles, as well as other marine life. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is targeting the issue with additional “line clean up dives” with tanks supplied by Dive Friends, but it requires constant vigilance around all of the piers of Bonaire.
Over 2,171 items of marine debris were removed. The most significant items removed were 252 pieces of fishing line. Other items included: 796 bottles, 139 beverage cans, 134 plastic fragments, 8 tubes of toothpaste, 65 plastic cups, 63 cloth fragments, 111 cardboard boxes, 26 ropes, 4 batteries, 39 shoes, 1 Speedo and much more.
That evening, all participants and their families were welcomed back for a Pot Luck BBQ and raffle at the recently remodeled Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. Dive Friends Bonaire (with help from our sponsors) provided drinks and main courses, while participants supplied side dishes. Hamlet Oasis is also the location of the Debris Free Bonaire plastic collection container, so volunteers learned more about the new coastal clean-up initiative targeting floating marine plastic that washes ashore on Bonaire’s east coast.
Sponsors for the event include: Ouray Sportswear, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Deep Blue Gear, Bonaire Marine Park, Selibon, Bonaire Food Group, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Reef Safe Suncare,
Your Scuba Store, Body Glove, Native Outfitters and Reef Footwear.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, October 12th, 2013.