An interactive map launched this week by Project AWARE, a global nonprofit organization, visualizes nearly three years of ongoing reporting by an international network of volunteer scuba divers who remove trash they find underwater through the Dive Against Debris program.
Dive Against Debris empowers scuba divers around the world to remove and report types and amounts of trash they find underwater. The web-based reporting platform enables divers to submit their data and images online. This information is now being shown on the new interactive Dive Against Debris map, shedding light on the growing marine debris problem that remains largely invisible to the wider public.
“Armed with the information, supported by people on the ground, and working in partnerships, we can drive much needed change for the ocean from two directions: bottom up and top down,” said Ania Budziak, Associate Director of Science and Policy for Project AWARE. “Together, we can change what we produce, consume, and how we dispose of our waste. We can also influence policies necessary to improve how waste is managed locally, regionally and globally.”
Our trash does not belong in the environment yet millions of tons of it enter the ocean each year. So far, the number one type of trash reported by Project AWARE divers is plastic – making up nearly 70 percent of the items. These include single use plastics we throw away everyday like bottles and bags that animals mistake for food as well as fishing line and nets that entangle marine life with devastating consequences. The map, which visualizes more than 400,000 items of debris reported so far, underscores why initiatives to reduce waste are so critical.
Project AWARE’s new Dive Against Debris map represents the first opportunity to instantly visualize what is reported and where on a global scale. The organization hopes to use this information to target debris prevention initiatives, reduce the amount of rubbish entering the ocean and ultimately protect wildlife.
“As scuba divers, we’re able to use our unique skills and knowledge to collect data to show the devastating impacts our waste has on life beneath the waves,” said Budziak. “Project AWARE volunteers who remove and report underwater debris are members of a unique community that contribute to a clean and healthy ocean and also inspire us all to make ocean friendly choices every day.”
View the map to see what divers are finding underwater and get involved at www.projectaware.org/DiveAgainstDebrisMap.