With the introduction of Dive Against Debris, the act of removing debris underwater and logging data about that debris has become a Project AWARE focus. Sarah Wormald, the Global Scavenger Hunt champion, is one AWARE diver taking the cleanup commitment to the next level.
Sarah is a full time dive instructor with World Diving Lembogan in Bali. A few weeks ago, she received Project AWARE’s “Trash is Treasure” newsletter. A spark was lit and Sarah pledged to dive against debris every day for two weeks in July. “I thought – what the heck, I’ll try and show what a difference one dive can make! I’ll go everyday and see how much I can collect between now and the end of the month.”
The way Sarah sees it, it’s an easy ask to combine a daily dive with underwater cleanup. “All you need is a collecting bag in your BCD pocket and you are good to go. You can work collecting marine debris into every dive. It doesn't take away from the diving enjoyment it just means instead of seeing trash and feeling annoyed about it being there, you pick it up along the way and feel good.”
Sarah’s feedback on Project AWARE’s debris data form revealed something interesting about the kind of trash she was coming across underwater. “Cosmetics bottles. I [found] lots of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and make-up bottles but I [couldn’t] see where to log these.” Thanks to her experience, we can now consider the different options on how to log this particular kind of ocean debris.
Although Sarah came across plenty of cosmetics bottles, they didn’t make up the bulk of what she found on her dives. “Without a doubt, plastic bottles, food containers, plastic food wrappers from noodle packets and flip flops.” According to Sarah, the number of flip flops she found was “mind boggling”.
Sarah loves what she does for a living: work that merges passion with a profession but also lets her be a champion for conservation. “I wish every dive shop was as committed to the environment.” Sarah also knows how lucky she is to be able to dive for a living. “When I had an ordinary desk job in my previous life I would have given my right arm to be able to dive every day and pick up trash from the beautiful reefs we have here.”
In an environment where, as Sarah puts it, you “can’t take and never give,” contribution and conservation must take on a different form. “If you want to continue to enjoy diving then you need to contribute. No one wants to see marine life being damaged or harmed but it is. We all need to take steps to ensure that generations to come will still be able to see reefs the way we do.”
Thank you for your contribution to the Dive Against Debris movement, Sarah.