The past year I helped set up, as second in command, an ‘indirect’ service club called ‘Underwater Explorers’ comprised of scuba divers and partook on 3 separate occasions trips to Atami and Osezaki, two prominent dive sites near Yokohama. The purpose of the club is to monitor and record data at these sites to help contribute to a database called ‘Project Baseline’ that then allows for the creation of awareness for the marine life and support to fix the issues caused by multiple problems. Having already been a ‘seasoned’ diver (I had only dived 4 times before, all for my initial license), I had an open water diving license and had not done any recreational diving or serviceable diving. So, while I was kind of worried that I had forgotten skills in the year that I had not dived since getting my license, I knew that once I got in the water the first time I would feel comfortable once again.
Throughout the first year, while trying to find the group’s identity, we went on multiple trips to places like Atami, Osezaki and IOP (Izu Oceanic Park) as well as a trip to Anilao, Philippines. Thinking back on the first set of trips, the local dives, it was really interesting how the data from databases are collected. I’ve always assumed it to be complicated, but after being familiar with the equipment and methods it seems rudimentary and surprises me not more people are focused on collecting data around the world to track the effects of climate change and pollution.
The trip to the Philippines was the trip that really engaged me with the situation in the country and the entire world. Whilst we did learn new skills when it came to diving, which was thoroughly enjoyable, the point of the trip was to recognize the issues the Philippines is facing. The biggest of which is plastic and pollution. Through 4 days we had two dives solely devoted to collecting plastic and other pollution in an area that, according to our boat driver, ‘did not have that much plastic’. Despite that, my partner and I collected over 2kg of plastics in just under 30 minutes. Other groups collected upwards of 4kg. This really shocked me because all my previous dives had been to dive sites that were litter free and really put perspective on what we were trying to do with engaging with the aquatic community to try and show the dire situation.
After all the trips, it has definitely changed my opinion on the work we do for Project Baseline, but it feels unfortunate that we’re at a point where to fix a problem we have to collect data, which will take years, to be able to show others that this is a problem. So while it has strengthened my opinion on the problem and that what we’re doing will help, it ultimately also weakens it as the trip shows the severity of it and that it can’t be fixed overnight.