One of the many hats we as Dive Instructors wear is the one that teaches our students and guided divers the importance of conserving our reefs. We mention how important it is to stay above the reef, making sure our fins or bodies don’t impact and break the coral. We stress not to touch the reef as the oil in our hands can kill the coral. If we see trash or debris we make sure we pick it up. All of these things contribute to the well-being of the reef and helps to keep the reef in good shape for many others to enjoy in years to come. This is an ongoing process which we practice every day.
Something that doesn’t happen every day, but that is just as important as the everyday clean-up, is “International Clean-Up Day”. All over the world, people engage in a clean-up of our streets, beaches, lakes, streams and oceans. On a beautiful Saturday morning on September 19th, 16 divers boarded the Maui Diamond II to head out and clean up the reef off of Scenic Lookout (The Pali). This is nothing new for the Maui Diamond II. Six to seven times per year Don Domingo donates the Maui Diamond II, the fuel to run it, the tanks for the divers and food and drinks for the trip. The crew also volunteers it’s time to make it all happen.
Once everyone was on board, the boat headed out for the ½ hour ride to the cleanup site. There were three teams of 4-5 divers each with a snorkeler for each team to shuttle the lift bag full of debris from the divers to the boat. One diver would stay next to the flag in 45-60 feet of water while the other divers on the team spread out and collected the goods. They would bring their loot back to the flag where it would be separated and put into cloth bags. Once the bags were full a lift bag would send them to the surface.
This was my second time to this location and I am still amazed at the amount of fishing line, hooks, leaders and weights that are down there. I had envisioned having to search diligently for stuff, but that is not the case. As soon as we reached the bottom we found massive amounts of fishing debris. The divers probably didn’t travel more than 50 feet from the flag and never ran out of stuff to pick up. We did two dives in approximately the same spot and picked up an estimated 250 lbs. of weight, line and leaders. The weights and leaders go to a local sporting goods store to be recycled. The truly amazing part is that the Maui Diamond has probably done this same thing in the same spot more than 10 times and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Don estimates that over 2500 lbs. has been picked up over the past two years.
The cool part of all this is that we can make a difference. We were just a small part of the bigger picture, but if there were no small parts, there would be no bigger picture. You can also be one of those parts. Whether walking down the street, on the beach or diving, if you see a piece of trash, pick it up. Imagine if everyone in the world picked up one piece of trash a day. How big would the picture be then ??