Friday, 25 April 2014

Cleaning Things Up A Little

We have been going Reef Clean crazy these past few weeks at Scuba junkie.  Living the dive life isn’t always as glamorous as some may think! We have had beach cleans and reef cleans organised nearly 3 times a week. Our weeks of hard work culminated in Earth Day, where staff, interns and guests got involved in beach and reef cleans at 3 different islands. It may not be the most enjoyable of jobs, but it is extremely satisfying. 

Beach Clean at Si Amil
Whilst diving around Mabul, you will rarely encounter a severe amount of rubbish. We send off our team of staff and interns to clean the reef a few times a week to help reduce marine debris which is potentially harmful to coral reef and marine species. There are many reasons to get rubbish out of the ocean, but simply making things look prettier is not the primary concern. One of the main sources of food for a Green Turtle is jellyfish…and what looks extremely similar to a jelly fish? A plastic bag. It is extremely concerning how many turtles are dying all over the world because their insides are filled with plastic. It is not just turtles that are threatened by this problem. Recent pictures of Manta Rays surrounded by plastic bottles and food wrappers have horrified divers around the world – fishing is not the only danger facing these animals that we love so much. Rubbish in the water poses a serious threat to the health of many underwater creatures, which is why it is so important for us to organise regular reef cleans. 

Everyone has been getting involved!
It may seem like a reef clean is easy work; float around under water and collect a few pieces of rubbish. This is not quite the case. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration whilst reef cleaning and extra care must be taken. Unfortunately, not all rubbish can be collected – if a little critter has made a bottle its home, we can’t remove it. If an object has sat on a reef for a long time, then coral will start to grow around it, so removal of this item will damage the coral. Some items have sat on the reef for so long, we simply cannot remove it. Coral itself can sting, and great care must be taken when removing items from the reefs – gloves are an essential piece of equipment. Sometimes we find large and obscure objects; last year we recovered a washing machine from the corner of the island. Our team of staff and interns had to be extremely cautious whilst recovering such a heavy item. Once the rubbish has been collected we then record what it is we have – this information is then sent to them team at Project Aware and their ‘Dive against Debris’ programme (read more about this at This information is used to help build an idea of what underwater rubbish affects marine life.  It’s not all hard work though – it would be difficult to go to any dive site not to check out what under water creatures are hanging out there!


Of course, it is not just under water that waste needs to be dealt with. Every day that we organise a reef clean, you can bet there is a beach clean happening as well. This may be the least appealing side of the environmental work that we do, but it is certainly just as important as anything else. Over the last few years Scuba Junkie has worked with the local community with regard to waste management. Rubbish collection points have been set up around the island and removal of this waste is organised several times a week. We have also started working with the kids on the island, teaching them that plastic is damaging and encouraging them to use the bins placed around the villages.  However, there are some areas of the island that still benefit hugely from a weekly beach clean. It’s not the most glamorous of conservation jobs, like photo IDing mantas or releasing baby turtles, but when you see the amount of rubbish you have prevented from washing into the ocean, you can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction and realise just how important this kind of conservation work is. We welcome any customer to come and help us out with our beach cleans; all you need is a bag, some plastic gloves and a willingness to get a little bit dirty. Every little helps! 

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