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Underwater Trash Surfaces in a Whole New Way this Earth Day

Apr. 22/14

Cars, a makeshift toilet, a full set of golf clubs, a set of false teeth and a pogo stick. These are just some of the unusual items found by volunteer scuba divers who are helping Project AWARE offer a new, underwater view of the problem of trash – much of it plastic – in the ocean.

Today, we launched the new Dive Against Debris Map to visualize the efforts of more than 21,000 volunteer divers in over 60 countries of the world to date. Dive Against Debris, launched in 2011, is a global survey of types and amounts of trash removed underwater by volunteer divers, reported online, and now reflected on the map.

Thanks to AWARE divers, the map is helping to add an underwater view to a problem that is mostly invisible to the public. Divers often untangle or try to rescue marine life impacted by our debris. At the end of last year, divers in Indonesia successfully rescued five white tip reef sharks pups they found entangled in discarded fishing net. Despite their awesome efforts, they were saddened to find some other white tips pups had already drowned. This is the sad reality of marine debris – it’s responsible for killing and injuring thousands of marine animals and birds every year.

What does the Dive Against Debris Map show? The story so far:

  • Plastics are the No. 1 type of trash found by Dive Against Debris volunteers, making up 66% of the total nearly 400,000 pieces of debris reported to date.
  • More than 700 entangled or dead marine animals reported since 2011, including marine mammals, birds, fish and crustaceans.
  • 1400 Dive Against Debris surveys reported from more than 60 countries (1112 of which are visualized on the map to date).

Thanks to all the Dive Against Debris volunteers who have submitted data so far and regularly survey their local dive sites. We couldn’t do it without you! Remember, if you Dive Against Debris, be sure to submit your data online to be included on the Dive Against Debris Map.

What can you do to help right now?

  1. Visit the map to see what trash divers are finding in the ocean.
  2. Share the map with friends or colleagues to help spread the word about underwater trash and the harm it causes the marine environment.
  3. Start your Dive Against Debris and help protect marine life from trash in the ocean.
  4. Donate today for a clean and healthy ocean. Your gift will stop plastics harming marine life and keep our ocean free of debris.