What do your scuba diving dreams look like? Clear water, colourful corals and heaps of fish? Maybe a shipwreck? Or a turtles cruising by in the blue? That’s what our dreams look like too! Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case as plastic waste and trash from on land washes in to our oceans on an almost daily basis. But this is where you can help!
Diving against debris means making a scuba dive specifically for the purpose of collecting waste from a dive site which doesn’t belong there. As a dive center in Malapascua, ocean conservation is very close to our hearts and we often host conservation events related to diving in Malapascua and diving in the Philippines.
Here are some tips for organizing your dive against debris (cleanup dive) based on our experience of diving in Malapascua and organizing cleanups:
1. Find a site
If you live near water, there’s a chance that there’s cleanup that could be done. But some places are better than others. Choose a site that’s easy to access, and shallow is better so all levels can join and dive for longer. Get in touch with a local dive center to help choose a site near you.
2. Pick a date
Along with a site, choose a date. Give people time to make arrangements and a weekend is usually better so more people can join.
3. Choose a name
A good name can help attract people AND raise awareness about ocean conservation. “Reef cleanup” may be quite descriptive, but “Save our ocean!” is far more engaging.
4. Get in touch with the local dive community
Your local dive center should be number one on your list – explain what you want to do and ask them to help. They stand to gain by renting gear out and it’s excellent publicity for them with you doing the leg work. You might even build an ongoing relationship which benefits you later on.
5. Get in touch with organizations
Contact regional, national, and international organizations dealing with marine environmental work and try to get them to sanction your event, and share it through their channels. Having their name on your event goes a long way towards adding credibility to it and is good publicity for them too. This will also encourage your dive center to be involved too. We love helping to organise cleanup dives in Malapascua and have our divers meet people from the environmental organizations. Here we collaborate with People and the Sea and we enjoy joining them in their weekly beach cleanup, the “Debris Free Thursday”.
6. Seek out sponsors
With the local dive community behind you and a well-chosen name, you’re ready to start thinking about sponsors – this could be money to donate to Project AWARE but could equally be gear hire or tanks from a dive center, mesh bags from an environmental body or after dive refreshments from a local food outlet! In Malapascua, businesses participate in sponsoring the weekly beach cleanup “Debris Free Thursday” by providing a free drink at the end of each cleanups. It makes it fun and a social event!
7. Work the media
Getting media coverage for your event serves several purposes. First and foremost, it spreads the word on the need for marine conservation, generating awareness. Media exposure also makes the event more interesting to sponsors.
Start by looking into local media stories to see which journalists cover relevant topics, and then reach out to them directly, by phone or email.
8. Get on social media
Use social media to reach additional people, by using your own social pages or by creating a Facebook page, Google+ page, and Twitter profile for your event, then using that to reach out to relevant groups.
Update frequently, and remember that photos are always popular on most social media platforms.
9. Follow-up and reporting
Once the event is done, it shouldn’t be over. Follow up by reaching out to the community, sponsors, and divers, and thanking them for their participation. Share info on the amount of debris collected, and the impact those types of debris have on marine environments. Report the result to Project AWARE’s dive against debris.
If you are planning to host a cleanup near us – let us know. We would love to be involved!
To find out more about how to conduct a dive against debris underwater and what to include in your dive briefing, look out for part II of our Dive Against Debris Series coming soon….
To find out more about diving Malapascua with us, or about our commitments to ocean conservation and thresher sharks, or to make an inquiry, use our online contact form or send us an email to: [email protected]