Exactly 99 dives and approximately 2,915 lbs/1,322 kgs of trash later, Canadive’s amazing duo of divers, Charlotte and Isak Rydlund (and their Labrador retriever, Fenwick), completed their last Dive Against Debris as part of a coast to coast expedition this summer. Beginning off the coast of Cape Breton, Canada, on 8th June, World Ocean’s Day, and ending in Gabriola Island, British Columbia, the couple has spent four months traveling across the country from east to west, diving, removing and cataloging marine debris as part of Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program.
Where did the idea come from to embark on the Coast-2-Coast journey and clean 99 dive sites across Canada? “Having dived around the world we have found one thing in common with every location; trash and debris. Marine debris is a global issue, and unfortunately Canada is not immune. By mobilizing local communities, divers and businesses we could not only create awareness about the issue of marine debris, but also direct action and measurable results. Our expedition is about making every dive a cleanup dive,” said Charlotte.
Scuba diving volunteers from around the world contribute to Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris database on a year-round basis. But Canadive is the first expedition-style effort to remove debris and clean up 99 consecutive underwater locations. The team donned full dry suits and lugged large mesh bags full of trash from ocean, river and lakes environments across Canada.
“Across the country the sheer amount of trash has surprised not only us, but also the local divers and passersby. On both the east and west coast, we have found primarily glass, cans and equipment related to the fishing industry, while between the oceans we found most of the trash was different sorts of plastics often coming from the fast food industry.”
As they hauled trash to the surface they sorted and cataloged each item by material type, amount, location and total weight. The information reported to Project AWARE will help target improved waste management and prevention policies in future. Some of the most bizarre items collected underwater include an old rotary telephone, two wallets, two empty cashier tills and an axe. The duo were also surprised at how many golf balls they found - 198 in total – but only one golf club.
The Rydlund team also partnered with dive shops and clubs along the way to target local trouble spots. “We have been extremely happy with the response and involvement of local divers, local businesses and communities. We have had more than 200 people participating in cleanups with us across the country, not only underwater but also in kayaks, on paddleboards and on shore. “
Having completed the 99th dive, the couple now plans to settle on Vancouver Island and continue the Canadive project to spread the word that every dive is a cleanup dive. Thank you to the Rylunds for their dedication for conservation and thanks to the expedition partners and volunteers. We can’t wait to see where you Dive Against Debris next. Be sure to read all the details of the expedition at www.canadive.org.
Photo: © Kyla Hemmelgarn 2013