Interesting facts about diving and last news from us.
Most people never put their faces underwater to see what is there, whether Scuba Diving or snorkelling, but anyone would have to be like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand to not realise that there is a huge plastic problem in the oceans since main stream media and TV documentaries, especially Blue Planet have been highlighting this problem for years.
So we have to keep our reefs free of trash, to help preserve the environment and keep it a joy to go diving in the amazing waters we have here in Aqaba. Twenty years ago I was working at a Dive Centre and we used to offer a free dive every third Friday of the month to anyone willing to clean up some trash. That meant every third Friday we were extremely busy with people just coming for a free dive and maybe taking a single piece of trash out of the water, I even found one diver taking down a soft drink can so he could then bring it out and justify his free dive! Judging by the size of his underwater photographic equipment, I’m sure he could have afforded to pay for the dive!! At this point, I made a bet with another instructor that I could get people to pay extra for helping to clean the reefs. This was met with derision and laughter. I wrote a diving course and had it approved by PADI, called Clean up Diver. I made a poster for this and within 2 hours a couple asked if they could do the Padi Diving Courses and paid their course fees, I duly collected my small bet often Jordan dinar from the other instructor!
It took PADI a while to catch up and in 2017 they asked for my permission to use my outline and then the following year came out with the Project AWARE Dive against Debris specialty! The one thing that was in my specialty was what I termed “continual clean up”. In other words you have a small net bag and clean up any trash you happen to pass on any dive, by varying routes a bit each time you can cover huge areas like that! If I did this when guiding dives, it would not be long before the divers who I was diving would bring me pieces of trash and then ask for their own bags. After the dive, they would praise the activity and return for more! I decided to push things a little and was at first reprimanded by other instructors when
I decided to take a bag and clean up on training dives, including beginners on open water courses and even on confined water sessions. This actually instilled good respect for the environment and helped improve their buoyancy control from the start! At the other end of the scale, you will find me sporting trash bags amongst a plethora of decompression tanks on a Tech Dive!
On the positive side of all this, all the dive centres in Aqaba do this most of the time, and it works to keep our reefs clean, sometimes it’s necessary to get together and complete a large specific clean up in an area that may be less dived, or after a storm when trashed may get washed into the sea. All the dive centres do this with the help of the Aqaba Marine Park and the Jordan Royal Ecological Society, and also complete beach and land clean ups where local school groups can join in and help as well as running educational programs on coral reef awareness at the schools.
So all in all you can expect the reefs here in Aqaba to be nice and clean when you visit, if you do see a piece of trash then please pick it up. The best dives are when I take a trash bag in my BC pocket and I don’t have to use it as I have seen no trash!© Rod Abbotson 2019