New Zealand Underwater Association (NZUA) was lucky enough to be asked by Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium to assist with a Project AWARE Dive for Debris as part of their World Oceans Day activities on June 8th. Okahu Bay Wharf was the chosen site, just across the road from Kelly Tarlton’s and a popular fishing and sightseeing spot. We suspected there would be plenty of rubbish to retrieve!
There had been heavy rain in Auckland the week before the dive and I was worried we would have to postpone it. Thankfully over the weekend prior the weather eased and Monday dawned with an awesome clear and sunny winters day. There is a lot of current under the wharf, so diving at slack tide is essential. We were lucky that on the day slack high tide was around lunch time and a few of us could sneak out of the office for a few hours (which was a good plan until bosses saw us on the evening news).
Our Dive Crew was made up of myself, two other instructor friends and three of the staff from Kelly Tarlton’s, with shore based support from NZUA and Kelly Tarlton’s Staff. With the eagle eyes of a reporter and camera man from TV3 News and a New Zealand Herald photographer, we had quite the entourage accompanying us as with scuba gear donned we made the long trek down the wharf to the entry point.
After a briefing (a rather nervous one with a news camera in my face!) in buddy pairs we were off with our catch bags and sacks to see what we could retrieve from the ocean floor. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of life around the pylons and sea floor; plenty of mussels, starfish, triple fins and various others.
Not such a pleasant surprise was the amount of rubbish we found. In just over 30 minutes we conservatively estimated we managed to bring up over 100kg of rubbish. Including chairs, a computer monitor, a variety of glass bottles, cups, fishing traps and tackle and even a plastic fish!
While it was a shame to find so much rubbish in such a short time, it was great to have the media there to report on what we found and raise awareness of what’s in our oceans.
Media reports are here: NZ Herald http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11461949 and TV3 http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/kiwis-careless-about-ocean-environment-2015060818#axzz3dakoPXsL.
Thanks to Kelly Tarlton’s for inviting me to be part of their efforts and everybody else who helped remove so much rubbish from the ocean and raise awareness of this issue.