Marine Life Rescued As Divers Come Up Clean

By Simply Diving PADI Instructor Dan Nelmes

HOW’S IT GOING DIVE FRIENDS..?

April 24th was a particularly important day for divers. Why, I hear you ask? Because all around the world, divers and dive companies got involved with Project AWARE’s Dive For Earth Day: One of the scuba diving world’s most important days in the calendar when we get the chance to clean up one of our favourite dive sites.

After all, the underwater world isn’t just our playground and we, as ambassadors of the ocean, hold a certain responsibility and should take care and maintain that which we are passionate about.

Team Simply, together with a group of ten Simply Diving volunteers, did their part and travelled to one of our most important dive sites, Marina del Este. This is where we conduct many PADI courses throughout the year and also bring along certified divers for some great fun diving. So the goal was to dive on and around Fraggle Rock (or Piedra del Medio for our Spanish friends) to remove some nasty netting, along with other rubbish and debris, that had drifted in from the open ocean during the earlier months and tangled itself around the reefs and wrecks.

"Fraggle Rock" is a popular cleaning station for the Ocean Sunfish

"Fraggle Rock" is a popular cleaning station for the Ocean Sunfish

This particular monofilament netting is very hard to remove and can be the death of lots of marine life that become trapped within. It takes patience, a handy dive knife, plus a fair bit of nimble skill to carefully remove it a piece at a time.

The team was divided into two separate groups to cover both sides of the dive site. Armed with knives and mesh bags, we made our way to the shoreline, donned masks and regulators and entered the water to begin our clean up mission.

From the first moment that the rock loomed into view it was plainly obvious to see that there was plenty of work to do. Netting was scattered all around the site wrapping around difficult areas. We began to cut away at some just to the right of our location, gently lifting it away from the coral so as not to damage it as much as possible. But even here some unfortunate juvenile starfish and sea cucumbers had been captured by this horrid stuff.

Carefully we cut them free one by one and placed them safely away from the area. One net down and in the bag and it was on to the next… It was clearly going to be a long dive!

Moving on towards the cars that are parked at the bottom of the sea in 26m and 23m and are favourite cleaning stations for juvenile Ocean Sunfish, we came across some more netting. But this time it was in a large bulk and to our sorrow we had to let it be as marine life had began incorporating it into the ecosystem due to it being there for quite some time. Coral had begun growing upon it and on closer inspection we could make out the little faces of blennies that had made their homes within the holes.

Dan checks one of Fraggle Rock's parked cars for any sign of marine debris

Dan checks one of Fraggle Rock's parked cars for any sign of marine debris

It took a good whole hour dive to cover the entire site, removing netting, rubbish, fishing lines and even an old anchor. Of course, the dive didn’t come without its spoils, as during the investigation to locate the nets a juvenile Mola Mola (the Ocean Sunfish himself) was spotted hovering above the rock before disappearing into the depths. We also had time to photograph a Conger Eel poking it’s head out from a fissure in the rock to see what was going on.

On a final note, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the clean up. With your efforts we have made another one of our dive sites that much safer and cleaner for our aquatic friends and of course ourselves! Remember, you can still do your part and continue to maintain dive sites worldwide.

For now, I look forward to diving with you all again soon…

Instructor Dan’s column now appears every month in the Costa’s number one News and Info Guide, THE SENTINELLA MALAGA. Pick up a copy all along the coast or check here: www.thesentinellamalaga.com.