The community of Curacao are true leaders in the fight to protect what they love and the Curacao Special Summer Underwater and Beach Clean-up truly underlined this. This event, organised by FORCE BLUE, The Dive Bus Curacao, Dive Curacao and supported by Project AWARE, became a beautiful reminder of community spirit, where a wonderful turnout of Divers and Non-Divers to support this island initiative for Voedselbank Curacao, became a gathering of devoted and like-minded spirits during troubled times!
Reefs worldwide are facing threats including climate change, over-fishing, water pollution and marine debris from human waste like single use plastics. While the effects of climate change must be addressed on a global scale, local communities can give their reefs the best chance of survival. They can start by reducing pressures such as fishing responsibly and reducing land-based pollution that is entering the ocean.
Together dive centres, like The Dive Bus Curaçao, on the island have united to protect their local dive sites from the onslaught of trash. They realize that conservation cannot be done in isolation – it takes the collaborative efforts of all to really make change.
“Diving may not be most people’s first idea of a career but it certainly turned out to be mine, and I wouldn’t change any of it, even if I could,… My mission is to keep on living the dream, encouraging people to fall in love with diving, on magnificent reefs that we all help keep beautiful”, says Mark Pinnell, a PADI AmbassaDiver and Managing Director at The Dive Bus Curaçao.
FORCE BLUE, the only non-profit organization in the world that retrains and redeploys former Special Operations veterans and military-trained combat divers to assist in marine conservation efforts. By uniting the community of Special Operations veterans with the world of marine science and conservation, FORCE BLUE has created a transpartisan model of caring, cooperation and positive change with the power to restore lives and restore the planet.
Many Caribbean reefs, like those in Curaçao stand a good chance of surviving if local pressures can be minimized. Several organizations on the island are working diligently to help restore and protect the fringing reefs by tackling these issues across the island of Curacao by coordinating a beach clean-up (s) and underwater clean-ups.
“Scuba divers have a deep connection to the ocean and a desire to want to protect it. We love to mix the passion for ocean adventure with conservation,” says Jack Fishman from Project AWARE, a global movement for ocean protection.
Plastic pollution is affecting the oceans across the world, and some reports estimate that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Marine life like fish, birds and sea turtles can mistake plastic for food and eventually starve or become entangled and suffocate. Sadly, many islands did not take-action quickly enough and their reef systems have collapsed. Collapsed reef systems result in losses in tourism, fishing revenue, floods, deteriorated water quality, and less resistance to storms. Luckily, Curacao still has the chance to protect itself if action is taken immediately.
According to CHATA CEO, Miles Mercera, “Our island’s subaquatic life is one of the many things that sets our island apart from the others in the Caribbean. So, it is of immense importance that we all work together as a sustainable community to conserve our ocean. The commitment of the Curacao Dive Industry to the Dive Against Debris and Adopt a Dive Site Initiative is the first step for sustaining and spreading awareness of our island’s ocean life. With the assistance and teamwork of the entire community I am certain that we can make this initiative bigger, create a sustainable change and provide the upcoming generation a healthier ecological marine life.”
Special thanks again to The Dive Bus, Curacao, FORCE BLUE, Dive Curacao and Project AWARE for the wonderful collaboration on this Curacao Underwater and Beach Clean-up, a community initiative to support the Voedselbank Curacao!! Together, WE ALL made a difference!!
Video produced and edited for Force Blue by Turtle and Ray Productions HD.
Photo’s courtesy of Gail Johnson Photography