Today, World Wildlife Day, Project AWARE honors all scuba activists who, one dive at a time, are taking action to protect ocean wildlife from marine debris, the ocean’s silent killer. Started by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, World Wildlife Day celebrates and raises awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. This year’s main theme - “The future of wildlife is in our hands” - offers an opportunity to shine light on some of the biggest issues facing our planet’s wildlife, and mobilize to work toward solutions to protect and conserve our earth’s valuable ecosystems.
As divers, we have a natural affinity for the ocean environment and its wildlife. Our first-hand experience in the underwater world shows us the fragility of ocean ecosystems and allows us to better understand the many threats faced by marine wildlife today. We see how pollutants like plastic debris pose serious threats to ocean species, damaging vital underwater habitats like coral reefs and seagrass beds. We encounter many of the thousands of marine animals that fall victim to marine debris each year: all seven species of sea turtle, over half of marine mammals and almost two thirds of seabird species have ingested or become entangled in marine debris. And we’re not letting these issues pass unnoticed. Around the globe, divers are taking a stand to fight back against the onslaught of ocean trash through Dive Against Debris™, Project AWARE’s citizen science program.
Today, Project AWARE celebrates the scuba divers who have taken action to secure a brighter future for ocean wildlife through Dive Against Debris™. Your debris collection makes an immediate impact on the health of marine flora and fauna, and your survey data contributes to policy change and long-term solutions to stop the ocean’s silent killer and end the Ugly Journey of our Trash before it’s too late. In 2015 alone, over four thousand scuba divers from 58 different countries removed close to 90,000 marine debris items from underwater environments and reported over one thousand marine creatures either entangled or dead!
Check out the infographic below to see the impact of divers’ efforts in 2015:
This World Wildlife Day, Project AWARE thanks all Dive Against Debris volunteers whose dedication and commitment to marine protection is making a lasting impact on our ocean planet. The future of marine wildlife is in your hands: Dive Against Debris and join us in the fight against marine debris to secure a brighter future for the ocean and its wildlife one dive at a time!
Photo courtesy of Kuwait Dive Team