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Bowen dives against debris (photos & video)

Scenes from the March 26 volunteer cleanup event

Bowen waters got a spring clean over the weekend as half a tonne of waste was hauled out of Snug Cove.

The ‘Dive Against Debris’ event saw divers and shore volunteers head down to Union Steamship Company Marina to remove junk and debris from the water. All told there were 1,139 pounds lifted ashore during the day.

The cast-aside junk came in all shapes and sizes. A wheelbarrow, tires, lawn chairs, and umbrellas were some of the larger items, while electronics, beer bottles and a wide variety of plastics added plenty of their own weight to the total.

Organizer Amber Spitkovski, who joined her fellow divers for the clean, explained why plastics in particular are especially dangerous.

“Much of the debris in the ocean is plastic in nature, which never fully degrades. Alternatively, over time through photodegradation (sunlight) and water movement, plastics breakdown into small particles, even as small as nanoplastics,” says Spitkovski.

“During this process toxic additives in the plastics are also released (flame retardants, antimicrobials, PCB’s, etc) into the environment.”

Spitkovski says this “impacts the food chain in deadly ways, particularly when biomagnification intensifies the negative effects. Adding to all this, the debris can cause animals to become tangled and result in suffocation and cause damage to boats, like when rope becomes wrapped around propellors, or anchors are unable to be recovered because they are caught in debris.”

There’s many ways people can prevent waste from entering the water, including not littering or cleaning litter when you see it, securing items to your boat or water home, cutting down on disposable items or recycling them when necessary, and organizing or volunteering for similar cleanup events.

Spitkovski also spoke about the global impact when sea waste builds up, and why any and all cleanup efforts help. “First and foremost, I think it is important out of basic respect. Respect for the environment, for the animals that live in it, and for each other. Without the oceans we would not be alive!”

“So I think it is imperative we contribute to its vitality by caring for it, which includes reversing the damage already done, including the active removal of garbage accumulated.”

“Another important reason to remove debris from the ocean is literally in order to maintain life on this planet. The ocean plays a large role in removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and supplies the earth with 50 to 80 per cent of its oxygen. Without a healthy marine ecosystem the ocean will die,” says Spitkovski.

She says theoceancleanup.com is a good resource to see the work being done to clean up the millions of tonnes of ocean waste around the world. 

USSC Marina, Bowen Waste, and the Bowen Municipality also assisted with the event. The Bowen Island Yacht Club donated $100 to help with ferry and gas costs for divers who came from off-island.  

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