For a non-diver, scuba diving might look like… “some fancy activity for bored people to feel something while wearing expensive tech gear”. This is pretty much how I felt about it before I was “converted”.
But then you start diving and it becomes an out of this world experience. You feel at peace in the big blue, surrounded by all these beautiful fish that are not that impressed by you. Turtles, mantas, sharks, dolphins, cuttlefish; you name it.
And then all that fear, the subtle thalassophobia you always felt while waiting for the waves on your surfboard… it vanishes. And in the space liberated in your brain there is this wave of deep appreciation and respect – love! – for the ocean and all its beings.
And that’s the end of the fairy tail because then… then there’s plastic. Then you start spotting – and collecting – every piece of debris you encounter on every dive, the pockets of your BCD full with numerous plastic types and yucky treasures. It becomes almost an obsession. You see a turtle swimming and instead of tailing it mesmerised by its beauty… you look around and collect all possible plastic it might ingest…
But you also realise that you are not alone. That so many other divers do the same. That there are many projects and initiatives to get rid off ocean debris.
A major one is the Project Aware (by PADI).
There are diving centres, like the 7SEAS Dive Gili (in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia), that are committed to the cause. And in their commitment to the environment, 7SEAS offer free weekly dives (on Wednesdays) to clean up the island’s coastline. Guided dives and equipment are offered by the diving centre at no cost to any certified diver. You just need to sign up in time to get your spot.
After the Dive Against Debris, garbage is sorted into over 100 different categories and it is weighed. Data is submitted to the Project AWARE in order to understand – and hopefully change! – how plastic is used and disposed of in Indonesia.
Diving against debris is a very satisfying deed in itself. But in addition, the divemasters and instructors at the centre are very energetic and approachable, and so much fun to hang out with.
The whole experience is so positive that not only will you want to dive with them again, but you will be pulling your hair for having to leave the island. Or you might decide not to leave at all!