Underwater trash is not a treasure

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Earth Day may have passed us by, but you don’t need a dedicated day to take better care of the oceans. Scuba divers certainly appreciate the need to keep the oceans clean. The vibrant marine life and beautiful coral reefs would not be the same if the oceans were scattered with trash and debris. But even the most earth-friendly diver may not realize how much effort must be put forth into making sure that oceans stay beautiful.

It isn’t just dumping directly into an ocean that impacts their health. What is put into landfills or littered on the ground can make its way into the oceans as well. Whether it is a plastic bag, can rings, kitchen appliances or car batteries, all of these items are detrimental to the health of the oceans and turn the crystal-clear waters into underwater trashcans.

Most of the waste that finds its way into the ocean does not bio-degrade or breaks down into small plastic chunks, which means that it is a serious threat to marine life. A single grocery bag takes 10 to 20 years to decompose, but it only takes a moment for marine life to become entangled in the foreign object. There have been more than 700 entangled or dead marine animals reported since 2011, according to Project AWARE. As the numbers keep raising it is more evident than ever that humans need to become more cognizant of how they are disposing of their waste.

The Project AWARE Foundation has recently launched an interactive Dive Against Debris Map showcasing years of data collected by scuba divers around the world. Contact your local PADI Dive Shop or the Project AWARE Foundation to learn more about what you can do to help protect the oceans.

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