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Is the Dive industry doing enough to tackle plastic pollution?

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Plastic pollution has finally hit the news and whilst the task ahead is still huge, there are signs that the tide is changing for plastic polluting our seas and oceans. In the UK, there has been a “Blue Planet Effect” where one extremely popular TV series has had a profound influence on the way people think about the plastic they use. On top of this with Sky TV running a campaign on their sporting channels and the mainstream TV and paper news outlets finally bringing the problem into our sitting rooms, the public and politicians are taking note and starting to act.

What is the problem?

Well – all the plastic that has ever been made still exists. It might break down into smaller and smaller pieces, but it never goes away. Here are some more sobering facts:

  • Over 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.
  • The UN estimates that there are 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean – 500 times more than the number of stars in the galaxy. Plastic debris outweighs plankton by a ratio of 36 to 1. Oceans are predicted to contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
  • More than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tonnes afloat at sea. In July 2017, a plastic waste patch bigger than Mexico was discovered floating in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Plastic products leach toxins that are now found in most people. Exposure to these toxins is linked to infertility, cancers and many other health problems.
  • In 2016, 6,000 Great British Beach Clean volunteers picked up 268,384 individual pieces of plastic from 364 British beaches over just one weekend.

Wild animals get entangled in plastic, eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young. Over 260 species have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output and death. Plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammal and more than 100 species of sea birds.

So what are divers doing to help?

Lots – but there is so much more to do! Of course, divers are usually passionate about the oceans and marine life, so can be the best advocates for promoting the idea of giving up single-use plastic.

Our very own Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown helped to set up a campaign called SeaStraw that is helping bars and restaurants give up single-use plastic and they are having great success in Manchester where they live. Businesses can download and sign their pledge from the website, putting themselves on the Ocean Heroes Map, by clicking here.

We recently ran a story about a liveaboard fleet that has given up plastic straws and aims to be single-use plastic free by 2019. You can read about that here: www.scubaverse.com/liveaboard-fleet-makes-plastic-pledge

Lots of dive centers, resorts and liveaboards we have recently dived with are giving away re-usable water bottles, rather than single-use plastic cups.

Many dive centres organise beach clean-ups to remove plastic pollution from the shoreline and even underwater.

Charities such as Project Aware and the Marine Conservation Society collect both rubbish and vital data about plastic pollution in our oceans.

But there is more that can be done, and it will take divers to speak up, celebrating the good as well as calling out bad practices to help us stamp out plastic pollution in our oceans. For example, email your favourite dive manufacturer and ask them to use less plastic in their product packaging. Refuse single-use plastics like straws and cups from the bars and restaurants you frequent on diving trips and in every day life. Don’t take part in balloon releases. Every little thing you do will help.

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We want to know what you have encountered on your dive trips around the world. What great initiatives have you seen? Please give a shout out to the dive establishments that are doing their bit and give them the recognition they deserve. If you run a dive centre and are doing your bit – let us know.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 3 (Watch Video)

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Introduced by Jeff Goodman

Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.

A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.

CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.


Part 3: Coral Health: from microbes to branches – Dr. Anya Brown

Healthy corals are critical for sustaining reefs. Corals are in a tightly coupled relationship between bacteria (like in your gut!), microscopic algae, and the coral animal itself. This seminar, presented by collaborative scientist Dr. Anya Brown, focused on trade-offs between types of coral growth, a coral disease outbreak, and what clues the microbes on corals tell us about their health.

Dr. Anya Brown is currently in the Ewel Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Ecology and Environmental Science at the University of Florida.


For more information about the CCMI click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

White Shark Interest Group Podcast #007 – with ROB LAWRENCE

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Seventh in an exciting podcast series from Ricardo Lacombe of the White Shark Interest Group.

Episode 7 of the White Shark Interest Group Podcast, Facebook’s’ largest White Shark specific group, covering science, conservation, news, photography, video and debate.

This episode features Ricardo and Dirk speaking with the White Shark pioneer Rob Lawrence – the man who practically put False Bay, South Africa on the map for White Shark breaching behaviour.

If you have ever seen an image from South Africa of a white shark breaching from the water, be it on Airjaws, Nat Geo, BBC, Shark Week, or any photographs online and in books, you have Rob Lawrence to thank. He has worked behind the scenes with all those film crews and photographers to get them to where those sharks are, on a regular basis.

With his highly successful company African Shark Eco-Charters he has worked with hundreds of thousands of people to visit and dive with Great Whites and see the natural predation behaviour that False Bay is famous for. He has, without a doubt, been to Seal Island, False Bay, more than ANY other human being alive! He is here to share his experiences and knowledge – including the much talked about topic of where the White Sharks may have gone in the last couple of years.

This is a MUST LISTEN podcast and a rare chance to spend an hour in the company of a true pioneer and advocate in the shark world.

Click the links below to listen to the podcast series on the following audio channels:


Join the group: www.facebook.com/groups/whitesharkinterestgroup/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/whiteshark_interestgroup/

Website: www.whitesharkinterestgroup.com

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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