Written by Sarah Russell
Thanks to the efforts of freedivers and conservationists across the world, insights are being discovered to help shape the way we protect and conserve marine life, as well as to improve marine education and sustainability overall.
Here are three initiatives in particular that are worth knowing about.
Coral gardening, saving the planet one reef at a time
It’s estimated that within 30 years, 60% of our coral reefs will be destroyed.
Coral reefs – the lungs of the ocean – help to sustain life on earth by giving us air to breathe, food to eat and coastal protection.
At present, 27% of coral reefs have been degraded and while some degradation occurs naturally, most is a result of human impact. Overfishing, pollution, excessive tourism and climate change all play a role.
Coral gardening helps to reverse reef degradation by breathing life back into our oceans.
Underwater nurseries have been set up around the world to help rebuild reefs in greatest danger. Scuba divers and Freedivers tend to the aquatic plants, where species of coral are grown and then replanted into the seabed. Scientists then monitor the success of the coral and make adjustments based on the needs of the plants, as a botanist would in a normal garden.
Coral gardening is achieving great success worldwide. With nurseries growing abundant, healthy coral that when replanted, remain strong and create ecosystems where marine life can thrive. While this is great news, we must learn to limit our impact on the ocean to better protect our coral reefs. Just like the Amazon, they are our our lifeline and our greatest friend.
DAREWIN, in conversation with Whales
Thanks to a dedicated group of researchers, one day, we may have a dialogue with whales.
The DAREWIN organisation, made up of freedivers and audio engineers, have recorded over 100 hours of coda clicks ~ a complex language based on echolocation that cetaceans use to talk to each other, as well as to determine location, identify food sources and assess threats.
By listening to, and analysing their recordings, they’ve made some incredible discoveries. The most substantial of which being that the coda clicks may well be more than just sound.
Freediver and underwater photographer Fred Buyle, along with project founder Fabrice Schnöller believe that “sonar artifacts “ (like images) may be embedded in the echoes, which could be replicated and then used to create our own, in order to communicate with cetaceans.
If they’re right, we will be able to ‘talk’ on their level and gain insights into their world like never before to help inform sustainable practices that can better protect these incredible creatures.
Project Aware, individual action global impact
Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans and that figure is set to increase tenfold by 2020, according to research by Earth Day.
Would you believe that there are actually large islands of plastic found in five locations across the world, one which is the size of Texas!
Beneath the ocean surface, marine life eats the plastic thinking it’s food, which then causes them to starve because the plastic can’t be digested and sticks in their stomachs. Earth Day facts also tell us that “the likelihood of coral becoming diseased increases from 4% to 89% after coming in contact with marine plastic.”
Ocean conservation organisation and PADI sustainability partner, Project Aware, will later this month hold their annual “aware week” that focuses on marine conservation through global community action.
Their mission ~ to protect marine life through cleaner, healthier oceans ~ is helping to tackle marine pollution at grassroots level while informing policy and legislation across the world.
From the 15-23rd September you can take part in various conservation activities such as a doing a “Dive Against Debris” to show your support. For more information on this go here.
S.J’s journey into freediving began in Utila, Honduras in 2017. Since then she’s been freediving in Canada, the U.K and Tenerife and is currently in Dahab, Egypt, home to world-class freedivers and the infamous Blue Hole. Follow her freediving adventures on Instagram.