Every year we, along with Adventure Wellington knock our heads together to bring people together and do our bit in cleaning up Wellington Harbour. Last month we were lucky enough to have a throng of divers join us as we picked, scraped, lifted and blew bubbles to clean up Oriental Bay.
Divers slowly trickled in here and there from 8:30 and took the time to sit down chat and share stories of just how amazing our summer has been for diving – almost competing as tales of giant crayfish and 30m vis grew and grew. With no surprises to anyone our shore based clean up teams were much more punctual and ready to go at 9am. All in all, we had over 35 volunteers – 16 of which were hitting the water with SCUBA gear and catch bags at the ready. After a quick safety briefing and dive planning our first divers hit the water at 9:50am.
While the divers got stuck into the underwater rubbish we had around 19 people lending a hand on shore. We had groups of people scouring along the beach, hunting in amongst the rocky bank, combing the beach, and picking around the playground. We had two teams at the ready, passing along the wharf and marina wall with ropes in hand to haul up catch bags laden with rubbish from our divers. Our fantastic volunteer from the Island Bay Marine Education centre was helping to de-critter all the marine rubbish. Our incredible shore cleaners hauled in a massive amount of trash. There were around 4 or 5 full black bin bags from the land alone.
With the shore crew working hard I took this opportunity to run around like a headless chicken attempting to keep track of where all 8 buddy teams were at once. For the full hour-long dive there were buddy teams popping up all over the show with catch bags full of trash ready to be handed over before they would head back down. The most interesting find of the day had to be the welders mask. No doubt dropped buy some haphazard marina workers. Divers crawled through mud and silt to pull up a staggering amount of trash! This sort of diving is really diving by braille. Buddy contact is easy to lose when visibility is less than a meter – I was ecstatic that everyone stayed in contact with their buddy the entire dive.
At the end of the day we hauled up much more rubbish than I had anticipated:
- 271 pieces of plastic ranging from snorkels, drink bottles and straws to fishing line, random fragments and a welder’s mask
- Over 170 pieces of glass including beer bottles and jars.
- 61 metal bits and pieces.
To see a full break down of what we pulled out and tallied follow the link to the Project AWARE page https://www.projectaware.org/debris-data/oriental-bay .
For me having been away from New Zealand for so long It blew me away at just how willing people were to get stuck in to cleaning up other people’s trash! The entire day I fielded questions about people wanting to help and where to find out about the next one. It was a fantastic day and we owe a huge thank you to everyone that chipped in above and below the water. An absolute highlight for me was see young kids and their parents lend a hand. I can’t wait for our next clean up.