Written by Tom Brown
Did you know that more than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our ocean by 2025?
Did you know that this has a massive impact on sea life, our own health & the world economy?
At Dive Academy, we are passionate about the ocean we dive in – we believe that the Atlantic Coast in Ireland offers some of the most spectacular and wildlife-rich dive locations in the world. We are also incredibly fortunate that our favourites dive sites are, mostly, free of ocean debris. This is not because there is no debris, but because the tides & currents move it on very quickly … unfortunately, this is at the expense of our beautiful beaches, where large quantities of ocean debris are washed up with the tides on a twice-daily basis. When we do shore dives we often have to navigate beaches covered in rubbish to reach our pristine dive sites.
That is why we organised a beach clean event on Saturday 15th September 2018 at White Strand Beach in Miltown Malbay. We chose that particular date as it coincided with International Coastal Cleanup Day, Clean Coasts Ireland (www.cleancoasts.org) Big Beach Clean weekend and Project Aware (www.projectaware.org) Aware Week. The event exceeded our expectations – not only did we collect over 20 sacks of beach debris, we met other groups of people passionate about keeping our beaches clean and with whom we plan to work in the future.
At first glance, White Stand, Miltown Malbay is a very clean rocky beach, but as you start to walk across the boulders and pebbles you come across large amounts of plastics, rope, nets and other debris caught between the rocks. We started our beach clean just after high tide, and as the tide slowly receded from the rocks, more and more debris was revealed and, for today at least, collected.
At the site, we met up with 15th Clare Miltown Malbay Scouts, who have their weekly meetings by White Strand, had seen our publicity earlier in the week and agreed to join the clean up once they had finished their meeting. Also joining us were a local community group, Local Solution to Plastic Pollution, who are hosting an event to discuss & promote local initiatives in October. These two groups supplemented Diva Academy members and friends and members of the public to form a small army to tackle the clean up of White Strand.
Two hours later, between us, we had filled over 20 sacks (140Kg) of refuse, as well as a number of large objects (a metal fencepost, a tangled mass of rope, a car battery, a number of plastic panels and sheets), which we took for processing at the local council facility (many thanks to Clare County Council for providing a free pass to use their facilities).
We invited the volunteers to come back to Dive Academy for tea and coffee (in reusable mugs, of course) and biscuits, and we showed a number of short videos, from Clean Coasts Ireland, Project Aware and others, about the plastic problem and efforts to address it. We even had two young volunteers, who wanted to find out more about why we loved the ocean so much, try out scuba diving in our pool – we especially look forward to welcoming them, and others, back to continue to learn how to dive, so that they too can share in our enjoyment of life beneath the Atlantic Waves.
We will continue to organise events like this, and we look forward to working with 15th Clare Miltown Malbay Scouts and Local Solution to Plastic Pollution in the fight against ocean and beach debris.