What do you get when you put the hearts, minds and souls of 40 dive centres all together on one small island? One of the biggest Dive Against Debris™ actions to ever to take place.
Earth Day 2016 saw the remarkable efforts of an entire dive community step out in force on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand. This diving mecca attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. Beautiful coral reefs, abundant ocean life and an easy, laid back vibe makes it one of Thailand’s most popular diving destinations. However, as a small island community, proper waste management coupled with tourism influx can often be a challenge.
Ready to tackle the issue head on during Earth Day, April 22, the community came together in one of the biggest ocean actions the island has ever seen. 353 divers jumped in at various dive sites around the island to remove, record and report a staggering 1,254kgs of rubbish through Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program.
However, this Dive Against Debris story has a twist.
Like many others before, Chad Scott fell in love with the beauty and warmth of Koh Tao. But he also saw how an underdeveloped community faced problems – specifically environmental.
Not content to sit back and do nothing, Chad mobilized the community and fast became a well-respected and honored environmental leader. He led the marine branch of Save Koh Tao for several years and supported, developed and implemented a multitude of environmental projects for the island from alternative dive sites to waste minimization actions. But it was Chad’s kind nature and incredible spirit that helped connect the community and inspire ocean action at many levels. He gained credibility and respect, not just on Koh Tao, but within the NGO community and local government at large.
Sadly, a few months ago, Chad was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. After dedicating more than nine years to the island and ocean activism, the passionate and supportive community decided to give something back to Chad.
Matt Bolton, Manager at Crystal Dive Koh Tao, a 100% AWARE Partner, inspired the wave of action, “Chad has selflessly worked on a wide range of conservation initiatives and projects with the aim of educating the local people and dive community on how to protect the beautiful local environment we live and work in. An island wide cleanup, involving all local stakeholders, was a most fitting way to acknowledge Chad's contribution. And to raise much needed funds for Chad's treatment was the best way we could say thank you."
After the mass island wide cleanup – land and underwater – the community pulled together in a phenomenal fundraiser to support Chad and his medical treatment. Elaine Brett of Master Divers coordinated the action, “When Bolton approached me with the idea of a fundraiser for Chad, I was immediately on board. The idea for Earth Day grew from there, the morning land cleanup, a Dive Against Debris underwater action and the after party. I told everyone to think BIG.”
With head shaves, raffles, games and more, the community raised over 700,000THB to support Chad’s ongoing treatment. Adds Brett, “We wanted to give Chad strength by showing him the love and respect that the whole community have for him; cleaning up the island that we all love to call home, and doing it in his name.”
So in the spirit of Koh Tao, Project AWARE is proud to recognize the entire Koh Tao dive community and notably one true gentleman who is having a tough time. Chad Scott and Koh Tao you are Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris Hero! We’re looking forward to seeing Chad back on the island and into the eco scene as soon as possible.
Discover how you can take action against marine debris with Dive Against Debris.