During September's Debris Month of Action, scuba divers and snorkelers from Cydive in Pàphos, Cyprus, teamed up to dive against debris and remove huge amounts of marine litter that were harming fragile Mediterranean underwater habitats.
Cydive and Pàphos Winter Swimmer Club volunteers gathered in four groups to collect all sort of debris including ten tyres from large vehicles.
Municipal Baths where the Dive Against Debris was conducted is a blue flag beach which means that the water is very clear and it hosts one of the most important endemic ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea: the Coralligenous framework.
Coralligenous habitat is considered the second most important subtidal “hot spot” of species diversity in the Mediterranean Sea after the Posidonia oceanica meadows. It is mainly produced by the accumulation of calcareous encrusting algae that, together with other builder organisms, form a multidimensional framework with a high micro-spatial variability. It is home to bearded fire worms (Hermodice carunculata), endemic Mediterranen hard corals (Balanophyllia europea and Cladocora coespitosa), star fish, sea urchins and different reef fish.
Unfortunately, human impact such as marine debris is affecting this precious marine ecosystem, directly and indirectly but Cydive is taking the protection of their local environment to heart and the team has been working hard on projects aimed at increasing environmental awareness among the diving community as well as tourists who spend their holidays in Pàphos. Diving Against Debris is one of the many actions that Cydive is undertaking to help protect precious and fragile Mediterranean ecosystems.
Last year Cydive coordinated the European Beach Clean-up day, in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research. More recently, they joined the Leonardo da Vinci European Lifelong Learning Programme, hosting an Italian biologist for the Euro TrainS Tour (European Training for Sustainable Tourism) project focused on developing Environmental and Scientific Tourism in Cyprus.
This year, Photos Socratous, the director of "Cydive dive centre – dive into fun", joined forces with Pàphos Winter Swimmer Club to oversee the area and collect countless pieces of debris found underwater. The event, co-sponsored by the Municipality of Pàphos, will go a long way towards building a strong local community commitment to a clean and healthy marine environment as the city prepares to be the European Capital of Culture in 2017.