Here at Project AWARE, we like to call marine debris the “silent killer” – the trash from our everday lives that smothers ocean environments, ensnares and chokes marine species. Les Stroud, or the godfather of survival TV, is used to the silence and the sight of of debris from his professional career as the TV hit series Survivorman.
While on a recent dive trip, we asked Survivorman and diver, Les Stroud, to say a few words. Check out what he has to say about trash in our ocean.
As divers around the world gear up for September's Debris Month of Action – we thought you’d be interested in finding out more from Les and his experience with debris in the wild.
PAF: Les, on the Survivorman series, you live completely on your own, with no supplies, in some of the most remote places around the world. In many episodes of the show, you talk about the trash you find on location- so far from civilization. What surprises you most about the debris you find ... in the middle of nowhere?
Les: The sheer amount of it. It goes way beyond a plastic bottle here and there – sometimes it is mounds of trash. And quite often it is plastic, plastic, plastic. But mostly what surprises me is that people can dive around it or walk past it day by day and never consider that it is a scourge and should be cleaned up. People just get used the site of it and give in to the inevitability that it is part of the landscape. Which of course, is very sad.
PAF: As a diver, you’ve also seen the effects of marine debris on underwater environments. What is it that compels you to be involved in this issue?
Les: Respect for the planet. Respect and love for all living things and natural environments. The trash problem is human created and humans can easily fix it with the simple will to do so. To not fix it is to not respect it.
PAF: As a survivalist and environmental advocate, what message would you like to share with scuba divers about ocean survival and the importance of taking action?
Les: We are on the dawn of a new era in underwater adventure, travel and exploration. Unfortunately we started late in this use of the oceans compared to how we have used the oceans as our ‘I don't see it’ garbage dumping ground. There were no John Muir types out there making sure large tracts of ocean were protected before things got bad as there once was for our mountains and forests. Now we see it. We see it on dives. We see it when we snorkel. We see the results and evidence of it in the decline of the fish and mammal species of the ocean. We see it in the stagnant and dead ocean areas that no longer support life. We cannot help but see the trash. We are far more advanced in the ways we protect land than we are in caring for the world under the waves. Scuba divers and the adventure industry that surrounds it must take the lead role in protecting what’s left of our ocean and we can all support bringing it back to life. And yes, I will say this with the utmost of truth not drama; before it’s too late.
Grab your toolkit and dive in during Debris Month of Action this September. What a better time to begin regular debris dives than now?