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Marine Life & Conservation

The Bahamas to Ban Plastic Bags

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On January 3rd, 2018, the Bahamas Plastic Movement’s youth delegation from the island of Eleuthera, travelled to Nassau, New Providence to meet the Minister of Environment and Housing, The Hon. Romauld Ferreira, to propose the need for a nationwide ban on plastic bags for the country. The self-proclaimed “Plastic Warriors”, members of the environmental NGO Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM), visited the Ministry of Environment’s Charlotte House office in Nassau, where they presented a thorough presentation on the economic and environmental implications of plastic pollution in The Bahamas.

Single use, disposable plastic items such as plastic bottles, straws, cups, styrofoam and plastic bags are known to be a nuisance in the environment. Plastic bags in particular are used in abundance within the country, globally up to 1 trillion plastic bags are used annually.  Used on average for around 12 minutes, these extremely lightweight and aerodynamic plastic bags escape with the wind, evading trash cans and local landfills before eventually polluting our environment and finally making their way to the ocean before severely harming marine life such as whales, turtles and seabirds.

“In our country, single use plastic items are commonly used and is very bad for the environment because it is a non-biodegradable material, so it just persists in our environment for an extended period of time, especially on our beaches where they may deter tourists”, states BPM’s Ocean Ambassador Genderia Francis.

Approximately 70% of visitors to the Bahamas said that their decision to visit was influenced by its beaches. Recent scientific research suggests that if the rate of litter on a beach increases to 15 litter items per square meter, that would deter 85% of users, causing up to US$8.5 million in tourism losses annually. “Plastic bags are a major issue in this country as they are commonly used in businesses, so we wanted to confront this issue head on and propose a nationwide ban on plastic bags”, continued Francis.

Leading up to their meeting with Minister Ferreira, the students participated in a Youth Activism Workshop hosted by BPM. Over the course of four days, students learned to conduct social science surveys to gather data on the amount of plastic bags used by locals on a daily basis. They also learned about the legislative process of The Bahamas. After reviewing several case studies of countries around the world with effective plastic bag bans in place, the students successfully drafted a legally binding bill for a plastic bag regulation for The Bahamas, which was then presented to the Minister. The first phase of the proposed regulation requested a levy on plastic bags for businesses and an imposed plastic bag tax for consumers wishing to receive a plastic bag at the point of sale.

Combining their knowledge of plastic pollution with their research findings, proposed draft bill and effective communication skills, these plastic warriors successfully built an engaging and informative presentation that was a call to action for Minister Ferreira and a guide to leading The Bahamas “Towards a Plastic Free Future . Courageously, the “Plastic Warriors”, composed of, Charma Morley (15), Traliyah Carey (15), Glenderia Francis (16), Abigail Ramnarine (10) and Tarryn Johnson (14), marched into the Minister’s office and clearly outlined what action steps were required of the Ministry of Environment. The team recommended 1) a partnership between the Ministry of Environment and Bahamas Plastic Movement to launch a national plastic pollution education campaign, 2) The Hon. Romauld Ferreira, Minister of the Environment and Housing agrees to push legislation for a plastic bag ban in The Bahamas by the end of the first quarter 2018 and 3) The Bahamas agrees to join the UNEP Clean Seas Initiative which is a global Call to Action for governments to introduce regulations and incentives to tackle marine debris.

“Someone has to make the change for our generation and if we don’t do it, no one else will, so we have to be the voice of our community and make a change in society” says, Charma Morley, BPM Ocean Ambassador.

Following the presentation, Minister Ferreira, expressed his gratitude, contentment and pride for the courage and commitment displayed by the “plastic warriors”. To the surprise of the group, he proposed to ban plastic bags completely in The Bahamas, followed by various types of single use plastics such as Styrofoam. The Minister revealed that the Ministry of Environment has been working diligently on formulating and pushing regulations with Parliament that address plastic use in the country and agrees that through laws and swift action, we will be able to mitigate plastic pollution in The Bahamas.

At the 2018 Abaco Science Alliance Conference hosted by Friends of the Environment on January 4th, Minister Ferreira publicly announced his plans to move forward with a plastic bag ban for The Bahamas, joining a growing list of more than 40 countries who have already implemented plastic bag bans.

To learn more about the organization and ways to decrease your plastic footprint, visit www.bahamasplasticmovement.org.

Marine Life & Conservation

Meet Parpal Dumplin – Norfolk’s very own purple sea sponge named by local child

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Ten years ago, in 2011, a new sponge species was identified in the North Norfolk chalk beds by Seasearch volunteer divers. In January 2021, the Marine Conservation Society’s Agents of Change project invited children in the Norfolk area to name the purple sponge.

Following lockdown, the judges thought that this would be an ideal time for school children to bond, while using their creativity – with no constraints. From home schooling children to entire classes, the panel of expert judges received a fantastic response with suggestions including Norfolk Purplish Plum and Purple Stone Sticker. All entries were carefully considered by a panel of experts, looking at the creativity, suitability and usability of each name.

It was unanimously agreed that the sponge should be named Parpal Dumplin. The winning name was suggested by nine-year-old Sylvie from Langham Village School, “because the sponge is purple and it looks like a dumpling”. The panel particularly liked that the spelling gives the sponge a strong connection to Norfolk.

The panel of experts deciding on the name included: Catherine Leigh, Education Adviser at Norfolk Coast Partnership, Annabel Hill, Senior Education Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Jenny Lumb, Teacher at The Coastal Federation, Nick Acheson, President at Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society and Claire Goodwin, Research Scientist at Huntsman Marine Science Centre and internationally renowned sponge specialist. At the meeting, the panel was supported by Seasearch East Coordinator, Dawn Watson, who recognised this sponge as special over a decade ago.

Claire Goodwin, internationally renowned sponge specialist, says: “Dawn and Rob invited me to join a Seasearch survey of the east coast, including the Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds. Dawn introduced me to a purple sponge she had noticed on the chalk reefs. We took samples, and believe it to be a species new to science, in a sub-genus of sponges known as Hymedesmia (Stylopus).”

We need to look at specimens deposited in museums to understand how many different Hymedesmia (Stylopus) species exist in the UK and how they differ from this new species. The Agents of Change naming project has given the sponge a common name that we can use until it has a scientific one.  I loved seeing all the creative suggestions.

Sponges help to keep seawater clean by filter feeding, consuming tiny particles of food that float by. There are over 11,000 different species globally and our purple one is ‘encrusting’, meaning it adopts the shape of whatever it covers. It lives in Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds Marine Conservation Zone, a precious area of local seabed that needs to be taken care of.

Jenny Lumb, Teacher at The Coastal Federation, said: “Naming the purple sponge has been a fun way for children to find out about the fascinating life hidden beneath the waves. It’s amazing to be given the chance to name a species that scientists and divers will use for years to come! The children are so fortunate to have the MCZ on their doorstep. They had a great time on the beach discovering some of the life there, collecting litter and finding out about this special coastal area. I am sure the children will continue to enjoy and care for the coastal environment into the future.”

Catherine Leigh, Education Adviser from the Norfolk Coast Partnership said: “It was a pleasure to help decide on the sponge’s name from so many fantastic suggestions submitted and I hope it will inspire people to find out more about all the incredible inhabitants of this Marine Conservation Zone on our Norfolk coastline.”

Hilary Cox, Agents of Change Norfolk Coordinator, said: “Parpal Dumplin is a great choice by the decision panel of specialists:  a local Norfolk name for this newly found species in North Norfolk’s Marine Conservation Zone.”

Annabel Hill, Senior Education and Engagement Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: “Wonderful to be involved in the process of naming a new species of sponge, found in Norfolk from a range of fantastic creative names suggested by local school children”.

You can find out more about the purple sponge, and the search for its name, by watching this animation: The seabed is a fun place to be! http://youtu.be/A_LUb8OSfn0

For more information on the work of the Marine Conservation Society visit their website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Sharks, Save the Planet (Watch Video)

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In 2020 Oyster Diving helped to train Toby Monteiro-Hourigan to become one of the youngest (12 years old) Master Scuba Divers ever. You can read his story here.

Toby has just completed this amazing ‘David Attenborough’ project video for his school on shark conservation. Please watch and share as it really is an eye opener in why we need to protect these incredible creatures.

Thanks to Toby and www.oysterdiving.com for letting us share this video.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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