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Taking on the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge



We have long been supporters of the Marine Conservation Society, so when we saw that they had created a challenge to give up single use plastic for the month of June, we decided it was a challenge worth attempting. After all – how hard can it be?

So, what is the Marine Conservation Society Plastic Challenge all about? The MCS wanted to raise both awareness and money, by creating #plasticchallenge. Those taking part agreed to give up single use plastic for as long as they possibly could during the month of June. Huge quantities of this single use plastic ends up in our seas, rivers and oceans and ultimately kills and maims marine life all over the world. Many species can easily mistake a plastic bag for a jelly fish, the micro-plastic that has broken down is eaten by fish, or the bigger animals – like basking sharks – might simply scoop it up accidentally. What we do know is that throughout the world, dead marine life is turning up with their stomachs full of plastic, or bands from beer cans wrapped around their torso. The one obvious solution is to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic that we use and then cast away.

Plastic Challenge

We very quickly discovered that we needed to change everything about the way we shopped. We had already stopped using plastic carrier bags many years ago, so this aspect was not a challenge for us, but nearly everything else (apart from beer and wine – phew) was difficult. We do not eat ready-made meals, as Nick is a bit of a wiz in the kitchen, so again, that was already easier for us to adapt – but so much salad and veg is pre-wrapped with plastic trays and covering, that buying from local shops and supermarkets was to prove extremely difficult. Some veg was possible, such as leeks and butternut squash, but the choice was limited. The solution to this was very easy for us, as we have a nearby vegan organic supermarket (Unicorn Grocery) that provides old fashioned paper bags for veg – so there was one problem solved. But what about toilet roll, cereal (so many products have a nice cardboard exterior – with a horrible plastic bag within), frozen food, etc? Nick started making things we would normally buy pre-prepared, like hummus, pasta and pizzas, which takes more time, but is ultimately healthier for us (as well as for the planet). As fruit juice is either in plastic bottles, or has a plastic cap, we had to make our own at home. We now have a traditional milkman to deliver glass bottles of milk.

All the supermarkets we visited were willing to put cheese and meats into a re-usable container that we took with us, although we did get some funny looks! We made more regular visits to local independent shops, such as the pet shop that sells locally made dog treats that Paddy (our golden retriever) could walk in a select himself. This has now become a bit of in issue though, as we get dragged to the pet shop on every visit to the shops! Bathroom products such as toothpaste and shampoo cannot be bought in the usual supermarket deals, but a trip into Manchester centre gave us the chance to pop into Lush, who have an amazing range of eco-friendly products.

Nick 3

A lifestyle on the go makes this challenge even harder. We have to do a fair bit of traveling within the UK and overseas. You cannot just pull over at a motorway service station and buy some sandwiches or snacks as these are all wrapped in plastic (apart from the odd pie), so you have to think ahead.

Doing the Marine Conservation Society Plastic Challenge has been a fantastic experience. We will not stop thinking about this at the end of June, but instead use the experience to continue reducing the amount of single use plastic that we buy and then throw away on a daily basis. Have a go, for a day, week or month for yourselves. It gives you a real understanding of the massive scale of the problem facing us.

If you like what we did, or if this has inspired you in any way, or if you just want to support an excellent charity that strives to protect our marine life – then please donate what you can here.

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society, visit

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

Marine Life & Conservation

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



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



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:



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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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