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Collecting Plastic Waste at a Depth of 35 Meters

 In Conservation, Dive Sites

Last year, our team decided to adopt a dive site in Pemuteran Bay. We did this thought our My Ocean account with Project Aware. Our goal was to do our part to keep the marine environment plastic free. We want to give the reefs a fair chance at survival. Our team would do scuba dives focusing on collecting plastic waste from the seafloor. The team chose one of our favourite dive site in the North West of Bali: Temple Wall.

We did not know we were going to end up collecting plastic waste at a depth of 35 meters.

Temple Wall is a fabulous scuba dive site on the western end of the central bay of Pemuteran village. There are two dive sites here, Temple Garden & Temple Wall. Both of which get theirs names for the obvious reasons. Above the coast line there are 3 small hills that rise about 100 meters above the surface. Each hill with a Hindu Temple on its top. In 2009 the Reef Gardeners of Pemuteran Bay installed a fourth temple on the seafloor at 30 meters depth. They put this temple at the base of a dramatic 15 meter wall covered in sea fans and other vibrant soft corals. Pemuteran Bay’s dive sites do not get very strong currents. Due to its location, this area does get some of the best water movement in the whole bay. This water movement allows it to have a daily delivery of nutrients. The first few Dive Against Debris dives we did shocked us as, we did not find that much plastic waste.
Head statue covered by coral

The head of Shiva covered by coral at Temple Wall

We thought, “ great we picked an easy dive site to adopt!”

Our team explored different dive profiles to understand the health of this dive site. We were beginning to believe it was a lucky site and the currents were keeping the plastic waste away. Then the reality struck, and boy did it hit us hard! We chose to dive the deeper area of Temple Wall as part of a PADI Deep Speciality for our Dive Master Trainee. So we planned the dive to 35 meters. We would go down the mooring line which leads to the temple on the sea floor at 30 meters. Once on the bottom we would head North where the sandy seafloor sloped downward. We knew their was another reef at this depth in the area so there was excitment to explore.
When we found the reef we could not believe our eyes! The reef was beautiful! Filled with huge specimens of various species of both hard and soft corals. But it was being strangled by plastic debris. The reef was half covered in plastics, ranging in size from small fragments to two meter tarps.

The same current that was giving this reef its life was also bringing its destruction.

After this first scuba dive we discussed the horrible state of this site with then other members of Friends of Pemuteran. We decided we still needed to continue our routine clean ups of Temple Wall. In the future we would need to focus more on the seafloor, instead of the tops of the reef.
Scuba Divers with Trash Bags underwater

Faizal and Jus helping during one of our Dive Against Debris in Pemuteran

Doing a Dive against Debris at 35 Meters is not for novice scuba divers. A lot of extra planning and logistics needs to go into these dives. To date we have spent over 3 hours on this deep reef to try to give the corals the fighting chance they deserve. 
Here is the link to the Dive Against Debris Data Submission.
We plan to continue collecting plastic waste from this dive site. We are hopeful that soon we can report that we found zero plastic debris at this dive site. Abyss Ocean World is participating in several conversation projects. Please contact us today if you would like to learn more about how you can help support our team. Maybe with your support we can adopt a dive site in your name?
Written by Daniel Stilwell
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a diver taking a break after a Dive Against Debris