Written by PADI Regional Manager, Hans Ullrich.
As divers we all know the importance of healthy reefs and that is why I always enjoy jumping in the ocean when one of my dive centers has organized a clean-up.
I recently had the pleasure of having Hannah Pragnell-Raasch from Project AWARE visit Brisbane to see key supporters of Project AWARE and to assist with the Dive Against Debris™ surveys with Go Dive Brisbane. I picked up Hannah from Brisbane airport on Friday morning and went straight to Brisbane Dive Academy to see Mick Wheatley. Brisbane Dive Academy is a 100% AWARE Partner – kindly making a monthly donation to Project AWARE so that each of Brisbane Dive Academy’s students receives the limited edition Project AWARE certification card. Hannah also met up with Jess Scionti, one of the Brisbane Dive Academy’s PADI Instructors and avid Project AWARE supporter.
We then headed to see Shona and Pete at Devocean Dive on the Gold Coast. Shona and Pete organize regular clean-ups and do a great job in the Gold Coast Seaway. Hannah explained the importance of submitting their data online through Dive Against Debris so that their great efforts are not lost and contribute to long term change, which ultimately will help us return to an ocean free of debris.
Hannah then had the opportunity to catch up with Jon Doughty – PADI Instructor and a 100% AWARE Partner before traveling across the border to see PADI Course Director Pete Comerford of Tweed Seasports, having a good chat about what Pete’s doing with Project AWARE and his divers.
We drove to Manly (Brisbane) were we stayed overnight so we only had to walk 100 meters to the Go Dive boat. We met at 6.00am and Mark and the crew were already in full swing setting up the boat for the 2 Dive Against Debris survey dives. There were 16 divers signed up and we had Totally Wild from Channel 10 on board as well. Mark Robertson, owner of Go Dive Brisbane organized the dives well on social media and we were ready to roll. After all divers were present, Hannah conducted a Dive Against Debris briefing and shortly after the boat and safety briefing, we departed at 7.00am to Tangalooma. We got into our buddy pairs, armed with clean up bags and conducted out first dive. The visibility was awesome and there was a lot of marine life on the site, Hannah and I were lucky enough to come across a sea turtle at the end of the dive. Back on the boat, Hannah and Steffen took charge of logging all the debris using the Dive Against Debris Data Card and we enjoyed great weather, gummy worms and chocolate chip cookies. Besides lots of fishing line and hooks, we also had a spear, anchor and a working underwater light.
After a good dive brief we went on our way to dive number two, navigating our way around some of the wrecks. Lots and lots of fishing line and sinkers were stuck on the wrecks and even a big fishing rod and reel was laying in the sand. Hannah removed the fishing line from the rod but we left the rod and reel as it was encrusted in marine life. Back on board the divers had brought up a lot more debris this time including several anchors, lots of bottles and a plate. Fishing line, hooks and sinkers were the dominant items removed and reported. Once again the debris was recorded and when we got back to Manly, it was disposed of responsibly.
Participating in Dive Against Debris surveys empowers divers to contribute to short term change through the immediate removal of harmful debris but, through submitting the data online to Project AWARE, you are contributing to lasting, long term change. The data collected through Dive Against Debris is critical in providing policymakers with quantitative evidence about the marine debris the lurks beneath the surface – an issue that has been previously disregarded as out of sight, out of mind. Project AWARE works closely with Partners, sharing the divers’ voice and the underwater perspective of this messy problem. Divers play an absolutely essential role in addressing the underwater marine debris issue – we are the only ones with the skills to go underwater and collect this information.
It was a great day out on the reef and I like to thank not only Mark and the Go Dive crew for their support of Project AWARE and keeping the ocean clean, but also all the participants that were on the boat participating in Dive Against Debris surveys on Easter weekend.