Aug 27, 2014

Dive Against Debris – Lansallos – 23-08-2014

Dive Against Debris UK

What a day, being part of a dive against debris was an eye opener and a lot of fun, a big Thanks to Rob and Cat for organising the day as part of Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris and Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Seasearch dives, as well as all the help from Keith at Kernow Divers for a lot of the work helping in the background, and Rob for setting up the Facebook group Dive Against Debris UK Volunteers

When I got the call about a new dive site being opened up for us for the day I couldn’t resist, as some of you know I want to dive all of the coastline around Cornwall, even though some of it is only 4-5m deep, or accessible by boat. So off I set in the morning, heading toward the Devon/Cornwall border and like clockwork as she doesn’t know why we are going that way, bubbles (my car for those that don’t know) started playing up and went into limp mode, I tried persuading her I wasn’t crossing the border but she didn’t believe me, 25 minutes later I pulled into the National Trust car park on the right as you go down into Lansallos to find 3 others waiting, after deciding to go see if there was another car park we left and headed back up the road a couple of hundred yards to find the rest of the guys and gals waiting.



After we had filled out the paperwork and been chatting forĀ  a while our transport arrived to ferry the kit down to the site.


As we left our kit in the hands of our trusty delivery man we started the pleasant stroll down to the beach and it was stunning with the sun shining through the trees, especially after the shower we just had waiting for the delivery man.



As we wound down through the wooded path we emerged at a gate to a beautiful view


Just by the look of the calm sea I knew this was going to be a fun day, getting some debris collected from a beautiful location and getting one of my Seasearch dives signed off and a bonus would be getting a bit more of a tan.


We then started the small walk to the beach with the kit, quite a few trips later and some cautious foot placement by me down the rocky gully (we all know what happened last time I went over rocks in my flip flops) and we were kitting up and getting ready to go in, with about 20 of us it was going to be a good day of litter picking.



The dive brief was simple and direct, we were split into 2 groups, the left and the right, we carried out our buddy checks and off we went. As I had brought along the Orcalight Seawolf 2260 and 1560 that I had been loaned to review (which will have its own post in scuba gear reviews) I was happy that Cat had agreed to buddy with me so I could get some feedback on the light. I thought this photo was a great one of Cat, and the only one were she is breathing, proving she is human and not a diving robot in disguise.


Not that I had much chance to use the light though as there was so much litter in the cove it was crazy. Basically the cove suffered from a trapped circulatory current, meaning anything that came in on the tide got caught and settled there, and there was a lot of rubbish, the first dive was nearly 50kg and so sad to see stuff from over 15 years ago in the pile.



The main rubbish appeared to be cloth, of various types, and mono-filament fishing line, as well as lots of bits of unknown plastic pieces.


What we didn’t know till later was that all the debris we were collecting had destroyed many pink sea fans (Eunicella verrucosa) that Cat thought to be at least 15 years old or more, it was clear to see the fishing line was the culprit as it got entangled as they don’t have a root system and only anchor themselves to the rocky outcrops on the seafloor, so anything that threw their balance off in the current, like entangled debris would dislodge them. Picture courtesy of Tom

pink_sea_fan (1150 x 1536)

There were quite a few of them and very sad to see being critically uncommon, I think Cat called them.

I did manage to get a couple of pics with the Orcalight Seawolf 2260 but had the settings wrong on the camera and had it on manual shutter speed instead of manual aperture, am very pleased with these 2 images though considering I didn’t have time to actually take many photos, Cat made sure I kept collecting rubbish.



Then I saw a starfish, and as no blog post would be complete without them


Back to a couple more rubbish photos, it is hard to picture exactly how much there was unless you were there but I hope it is giving you an idea.



Amongst the rubbish someone had found the remnants of a baseball type cap, the strange thing at the time was we didn’t know what it meant, or where it was from.


I thought Diego Garcia was a place but couldn’t remember where, when I got home I checked it out and found it was a small island in the Indian ocean, owned by the UK and leased to the US as a military base of sorts, what I then found out was that the ‘Marine Corp Security Force Company’ was disbanded in 1998 on the island, meaning this thing could have traveled for thousands of miles over the last 16 years to end up as debris we collected, if its origins are right then it is contender for litter pick of the day, the swimming goggles and a ring Cat found are also contenders.


So back to the seriousness of the day, while aesthetically the larger debris is a pain it is what happens to it as it breaks up over many years, autopsies have been carried out on many dead animals and they have been found to starve to death from the plastics and other trash that gets stuck in their stomachs, smaller particles of plastic also get into the filter feeders, such as clams, mussels and the like that we eat, meaning it is getting into our systems and doing us just as much harm as the animals that are suffering from our idiocy and laziness.

Rachel worked tirelessly sorting out the debris we brought up, first weighing the bags and then carefully going through it to separate it for the Dive Against Debris survey results.


The whole time she was actually enjoying it, strange woman some might say but the real hero of the day and was great to meet her and help her with the sorting.


The second dive went in a little later than planned and the tide was coming in, so with only 4 other people on the beach I decided to stay and help out, in case we had to move things fast away from the tide line, I am so glad I did as well because sorting through the rubbish is a real eye opener, the smaller pieces of plastic had been treated by the sea just like anything, it has no qualms as to what it takes in and breaks up, and to find buoy plastic that had been broken up and rounded perfectly like pebbles on the beach showed just how indiscriminate the sea was.


The divers started exiting the water with their finds from the second dive and Tom was filming away for the piece he was working on for the day, when he has finished and posted the video I will put a link on the blog for you all to watch.

So I bet you are all wondering what the results were for the day, well it is shocking but here they are:
‘Plastic: 257 bottles, 47 buoys/floats, 21 lids, 80 cups/cutlery, 3.9kg of fishing line, 17 fishing lures, 8 food wrappers, 3 bits of plastic pipe, 99 pieces of rope, 1 pair of goggles, 59 bits of tarpaulin, 15 zip ties, 889! Fragments of plastic, 8 metal fishing hooks/lures, 5 rubber gloves, 25 bits of inner tube, 9 parts of tires, 11 rubber fragments, 1 purse, 498! Rags 23 Pieces of cloth.’ (Taken from Dive Against Debris UK Volunteers fb page,Thanks Rob)

That was all just from 2 50ish minute dives in a small cove, when you think about it like that it really starts to open your eyes as to how much is in the seas on this planet, and how much we have to do to protect them with their importance in the survival of all life on the planet.

A few of the group stayed to have an after dive camp with a few beers and a nice camp fire, from what I can gather they had a great time, I drove home with no problems from Bubbles as I was heading West and she knew, she just knew.

I am looking forward to doing another dive against debris day, and hopefully will get a couple of Seasearch dives in to get myself signed off so I can start collecting data about the sites I visit.

A big Thank You to all who came and made it a great day.

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