24th September 2011 - Gaya Island, TARP, Kota Kinabalu
I participated in Dive Downbelows September beach clean-up on Gaya Island. Thanks to an amazing 53 participants we managed to collect 689kg of marine debris (I think at least half of that was Rice Bags!)
Downbelow successfully managed to recruit primarily local Malay people to undertake the clean-up, which is so vital to ensuring we reduce the marine debris in our seas. By involving local people the conservation message is spread throughout the community and hopefully this message will result in a reduction in the marine debris. Richard (Downbelow MD & CD) has noticed a reduction during his time in the park so it must be working, albeit painfully slowly.
The debris assault team was split into 2 sections - snorkelers and beach walkers. As part of the snorkeler team it was our responsibility to collect all the rubbish that sits just in the sea, less than 1 metre deep. Rubbish collects here in massive scales as the sand is pushed and compacted into any type of wrapper, bottle or bag causing it to become 'one' with the beach. Removing the sand from the rubbish was not only frustrating but also extremely hard work as the sand sets like cement.
Morale was kept high by the promise of a lunchtime feast, a raffle and the prospect of becoming famous due to a film crew shooting the days events to be shown on local TV.
I can honestly say I enjoyed the day but was dumbfounded by the amount of litter we collected and how much more there is still to collect, with the main culprits being plastic bottles and plastic bags. I look forward to the future when I can organise my own clean-up and even more so to the day when beach clean-ups are no longer required! (OK, it's unlikely we will eradicate litter, but if we don't try we will never know).
Many thanks go to: Downbelow for sponsoring the lunch, boat transfers, equipment and documenting the day plus Sabah Parks and Sutera Harbour for waiving their Jetty fees.
See http://www.projectaware.org/blog/dive-downbelow/sep-28-11/removing-half-ton-trash for Downbelows report!