A summary of Big Bubble Dive’s Project AWARE week efforts from our manager Dan (the man with the eco conscious plan).
Project AWARE week really brought out the best in Big Bubble dive at the end of September. The week was packed full of events, ranging from, beach cleans, dive against debris and the launch of our own Gili Turtle ID & Conservation specialty. Conservation and plastic awareness have become major global topics (finally). Here on our little island paradise of Gili Trawangan, efforts by both the Gili Eco trust & our diving community are showing that with a little organised effort, huge changes can be made to improve an environment.
I have personally been a resident of Gili Trawangan for 3 years and in this time I have seen a drastic improvement in waste handling, recycling and awareness on the island. I have also changed my habits. I used to be a regular plastic user, buyer of plastic water bottles and didn’t think too much about where the packaging for my food came from. As is typical with most divers on the island, I now use a metal water bottle, always take a re-usable lunch box to get food and separate my recyclables at home and at work.
A few of us recently stayed at Tir Na Nog (Irish bar & Hotel) on Gili and was impressed by the fact they do not serve plastic straws and do not give out plastic bottles or disposable slippers in their hotel rooms. A great example set by one of the larger businesses and busiest bars on Gili T. Such simple solutions that have a huge impact.
Project AWARE (globally) and the Gili Eco Trust (locally) do incredible work to spread awareness regarding our climate, over-reliance on plastic products and what can be done to improve the situation. They have certainly inspired me and the rest of Big Bubble to put more thought into our conservation efforts. We are actively organising regular beach and underwater clean ups and ensure our waste is recycled correctly. We offer free water to anyone who has a re-usable bottle and all our ‘bean bags’ our filled with eco-friendly cotton, so you will not see any of those tiny plastic balls, which will never decompose, breaking out of our seats and into the environment!
This set the foundation for our Project AWARE week. We joined forces with our close friends at Blue Marine dive and completed a big beach clean up along a mile stretch of beach, to the north of both our dive schools. We were slightly shocked to find over 23kg of waste and over 1500 cigarette butts in just one hour, but it was amazing to see everyone involved and proved a great positive start to the week.
We followed this up with a 2 tank Dive Against debris special, at the wonderful Sea Horse bay in Lombok. An incredible dive site, which unfortunately is usually littered with trash run-off from Lombok island. We were lucky enough to be joined by Sarah Damours aka Scuba Sarah, who had recently travelled across all 7 continents, diving and spreading conservation awareness. Sarah is a close friend of mine and it was amazing to have her join us, bring her amazing energy to the project and to help us spread awareness during the day. We collected over 8kg of mainly plastic based waste.
One of our instructors Natasha Gillespie-Wong (Tash) recently designed her own PADI Distinctive specialty – Gili Turtle ID & Conservation. Tash had 6 students for the first course (including myself). As someone who has been on well over a 1000 dives with Turtles, I was amazed by how much I learned about Turtles in just 1 day. We learned how to ID different species, how to identify their gender, age and individual markings, plus how, when and where they lay their eggs. We also got to photograph, measure and record all the turtles we saw on 2 amazing dives. A wonderful experience for all and a course, which will hopefully grow on the island, to help spread awareness about these amazing and in some cases, endangered animals!
The end of a busy and successful week culminated in chats about Shark Awareness, Fish Identification and joining in for World clean up day with a huge island beach clean, organised by the Gili Eco Trust.
Overall a fantastic week at Big Bubble, but I feel the message is clear, 1 week is not enough! Plastic reduction, spreading awareness and education to those less informed, must now become a way of life! A big thank you to everyone who participated in our events, Project AWARE, Sarah Damours and the Gili Eco Trust!
Author – Dan Sherwood, PADI Master Instructor and Dive Manager
Photo Credits – Charlie Fenwick