The Dive Guru™ — Guru Talkin’ Trash

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Don’t be fooled by the smooth exterior or the placid demeanor, the Guru is well known for talking trash. You know, talking smack, bad-mouthing, belittling, denigrating, deprecating, dissing, disparaging, poor-mouthing, putting down, running down, talking down or, to use the Guru’s thesaurus-worthy favorite – to vilipend. While all of this might be true, that’s not what the Guru is talking trash about when talking trash today – it’s all about the trash in our oceans – marine debris.

Guru Talkin' Trash
Photo courtesy of Infinity Dive

Now, as a general rule of thumb, you can trash your friends (and I highly recommend it – as long as it comes from a good place and with the best of intentions of course) but you should never trash the ocean. It’s not safe, it’s not pretty and, to be downright, forthright and honest – trashing the ocean kills.

Think about it – divers can see trash in just about every type of underwater environment. We’re not just talking about the uber-populated seaside locales – divers find debris in the most far-flung places. Imagine how disheartening it is to be in a remote location without a soul to be seen (except for your dive buddies, of course – you should be able to see them. Please tell me that you can see them. Phew.), and you find cigarette butts and fast food containers. It’s sad. I know. I’ve been there.

Ok, so enough of the depressing. Divers are known for using their skills and being inventive – coming up with unusual and creative solutions. And, that’s the case when it comes to marine debris. For decades we’ve been diving in and hauling out everything imaginable… from your everyday one-time use plastics and cigarette butts, to toilet seats, lawn furniture, underwear and unmentionables (yes, I know undergarments are also referred to as unmentionables. But trust me – this time I’m not talking about underwear and the unmentionables will stay unmentionable). It’s disgusting.

So, that’s all well and good, but how does it help when divers use their skills to remove debris? Glad you asked. While it’s great that divers around the world are helping clean up, it’s the data collection that will help us all take the next step and end the marine debris problem.

Guru Talkin' Trash
Photo copyright of Frederic Juneau

That’s where Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris comes in. It helps scuba nuts worldwide remove and log the debris they find, anytime, anywhere, year-round. Why? Because we know it’s a problem. But we can’t fix it unless we know what kinds of stuff are entering the ocean, where that stuff is and how much of it is there. Only then can we stop it at the source.

To date, we don’t have enough hard data on underwater debris. But we do know:

  1. More than six million tons (don’t ask me if it’s short tons, long tons or metric tons. It’s a lot, ok?) of marine debris enters the ocean every year.
  2. Every year, debris kills thousands of marine mammals and sea birds, chokes coral reefs and smothers critical environments.
  3. More than 260 of our favorite marine species (think sea turtles, whale sharks, dolphins) are affected either by becoming entangled in or ingesting trash. That’s right. You like sea turtles? So does the Guru. Really, who doesn’t? Anyway, turtles like trash – especially plastic bags because they look like jellyfish, which are a marine reptile delicacy. Too bad they aren’t jellies and it ends up killing them. I know, I said enough of the depressing stuff, but this one really upsets me.
  4. And, bouncing back from the depressing, as much as 70 percent of marine litter ends up on the seabed accessible to divers. That means it’s in the perfect position for divers to take action! (Direct from Guru management courses – it’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity!)
  5. We’re all responsible. Together, we can help prevent and clean up this mess for a clean, healthy ocean planet.
  6. Check out Project AWARE’s infographic The Ugly Journey of Our Trash (or Unser Alltagsmüll Auf Abwegen if you prefer German) – both 2.2 Mb PDFs – for more fun marine debris statistics.

Now that I look at it, we don’t really know much, do we? Now that’s a problem you don’t need to be a Guru to tackle. Take action and take charge by finding, planning or participating in a Dive Against Debris event.

Even if you can’t Dive Against Debris, or if you’re chained to your computer, you can still help out Project AWARE with Dollars for Dives. This is where the PADI organization donates one dollar (up to $100,000 US) for every dive logged on ScubaEarth® in August 2013.

I think that gives everyone a way to get involved and fight the good fight against marine debris. Time to get started!.

Can’t get enough of the Guru? Read past installments here.