Oceans cover 72 percent of our planet. This aquatic blue world influences weather patterns, forms part of the carbon cycle, and is home to an estimated 200 million species of marine organisms. The world ocean is a fundamental component of the planet’s hydrosphere, thus, it is essential for the survival of all known life. Sadly, humans are slowly and steadily killing our oceans.
Humans have made the deep blue world a global dump site. That massive amount of garbage has detrimental effects on the oceans and the organisms that live in it. One only needs to read recent environmental news to realize that our oceans are facing a serious ecological crisis.
Mother Nature’s natural cleansing process is not fast enough to rid the sea of this garbage. She needs the intervention of responsible humans to pluck out the garbage from her bosom.
Through Project BLUE, which is a team of divers and volunteers whose advocacy is ocean conservation, we received an invitation from Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort to join their annual MyBlueArth Earth Day Family Festival. If you remember, this is the same group that invited us to their coral transplantation and reef cleanup in Sumilon Island. We always give our wholehearted support for eco-conservation, so we readily agreed. We also brought Alexa and Papa Nonon so we could instill in them the passion to preserve the environment.
A cool and refreshing morning greeted us, but we know that in a few hours, it will become scorching due to this year’s unusually long El Niño phenomenon. Thus, we took an early morning trip and arrived at Bluewater Maribago before 6AM.
Because we were quite early, we were able to witness a lovely cloudless sunrise. We love sunrises as these are promises of new opportunities and chances. Anything can happen with each sunrise, and that’s the excitement of life.
The coastal cleanup began at 6AM. We cleaned the area of Bluewater Maribago’s swimming lagoon that is between the main shore and the Private Island beyond it. As you can see it was a busy morning as volunteers, families, guests, and staff scoured the area for trash and debris.
Sweetie and I did our share as well! Aside from doing Mother Nature a favor, cleaning the coast was a good morning exercise.
Most of the “debris” we collected were in the form of algae, which formed a thick blanket around the coastline. Massive amounts of algae deprive the water of oxygen and can suffocate other marine organisms such as fish, mollusks, and corals. It was evident that the removal of algae that morning was successful because the lagoon became vastly clearer and cleaner as you will see later in the photos.
Since the resort is regularly cleaned and maintained, there is not much human-made trash. However, we did gather half a basket of plastic debris. We hope that tourists will exercise more responsibility in disposing of their garbage.
The large baskets of algae and debris were carried ashore and weighed. We counted more than a dozen of baskets of debris that need to be disposed properly.
At around 7AM, we declared a successful cleanup. Just look at the number of baskets of debris that all gathered! Amazing work, ladies and gentlemen!
Then it was time to reward the hardworking and responsible coastal cleanup volunteers. Bluewater Maribago prepared a sumptuous and filling breakfast in the form of a boodle fight! We had rice, hard-boiled eggs, daing, hotdogs, fruits and more.
Attack! This is the best thing about boodle fights; the partaking of a communal meal with other people instills a feeling of fun, unity, and camaraderie.
Don’t you know that boodle fights are eco-friendly? There are no plastic utensils to be used and thrown away since you use your hands for eating. In addition, the food is placed on sheets of bamboo leaves, which are completely biodegradable. After the meal, the bamboo leaves along with the waste food are simply disposed of.
After breakfast, we decided to rest for a bit to give some time for our tummies to digest our food. Nothing beats lying down beneath the shade of a large tree while looking at a stunning beach scenery.
Oh, that handsome guy between the ladies? That’s Gian’s father, an avid adventurer and a great supporter of our endeavor.
While waiting for the next part of the MyBlueArth event, we checked out the beautiful handcrafted chimes that were hanging nearby. Look closely; everything is made of recycled materials such as empty bottles and cans, discarded CDs, scraps of pipes, parts of appliances, and so on. Ingenious!
We are passionate advocates of sustainable eco-tourism and ecological preservation. We signified our passion to protect Mother Nature by signing on a pledge board.
Eco-preservation programs don’t have to be serious all the time! Sweetie and I played a game of chess in an oversized chessboard during a break in the event.
Half past 8AM, a holy mass was held near the resort’s pool area. It was attended by guests, resort staff, and volunteer scuba divers.
After the short mass, the next part of the event commenced. Bluewater Resorts Marketing Manager and Project BLUE Diver Erik Monsanto formally opened the reef cleanup event.
Mr. Boyla Gilig (the guy in gray and light blue wetsuit) then reiterated the importance of keeping our reef systems clean and healthy. He is one of the pioneer scuba divers in Mactan and is a very respected member of the community. He owns the famed Boyla Diveshop and carries the rank of commodore in the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Mr. Val Alo, a renowned and professional scuba instructor at Trek & Dive, gave us a thorough dive briefing. Since there were a large group of volunteer divers, he separated us into smaller teams assigned to clean various sections of the reef.
After the briefing, the volunteer divers eagerly assembled their equipment and prepared to dive. It was very heartwarming to see skilled and dedicated people, regardless of age, sex, or profession, who are more than eager to help save our seas.
Teams of divers were transported to their respective sections via pump boats and roofless double boats. Our team’s objective is to sweep the entire length of the reef across Bluewater Maribago’s Private Island. We were to drift along with the south-bound current and pick up trash along the way.
After a last-minute dive briefing, we were in the water. Right away, we started our work in scanning for trash and cleaning it up.
Now, this was harder than it looks. That’s because we had to swim against a steady current that swept south along the entire length of the eastern coast of Mactan Island. While the current does make us skim the seabed faster, stopping or pausing to pick up garbage is a fight.
Come on, kick! Kick! Get that trash out of the reef.
Some members of our team carried old rice sacks where we could place the trash that we collected from the seabed.
We picked up trash in all forms—soda bottles, rusty cans, paper plates, cards, and more. One of our team members even picked up a can half filled with paint!
Do you want to see how trash in the reef looks like? Check out the photo below. Ugly, isn’t it? That’s a disposable aluminum paper plate.
We were actually horrified to see an entire disposable aluminum picnic set in the reef. Later during our lunch, divemasters lamented that tourists who go on island hopping trips simply discard their wares into the sea after using them.
Some local boatmen, uneducated about environmental protection and unaware of the effects of their harmful practices, allow their guests to just throw their garbage. They believe that sea currents will eventually deposit the trash to some faraway shore.
That is why we really need to involve boatmen, fishermen, and locals in massive, comprehensive, and continuing information drives about saving and protecting the sea. They are the front liners and users of the sea; they are in that environment every day.
If we want our oceans and seas to be pristine and thriving for generations to come, then we need to know how to take care of them. Responsible scuba divers are instrumental in disseminating this information drive and protecting this blue world.
Devoid of garbage which we plucked off, the reef, even in the shallow parts, look amazingly beautiful. With the massive amount of garbage dumped into the sea for hundreds of years, human intervention is needed to save the ocean.
After an hour underwater (and almost losing our GoPro), our sacks couldn’t hold any more garbage. Thus, it was time to head to the surface and go back to shore.
We were the last team to surface. The current carried us beyond our assigned section, so it took sometime for the boat to pick us up.
After all the divers surfaced, we had another sumptuous and gigantic boodle meal for lunch waiting for us at the Private Island. Mmmmmmm!
Look at those sacks of garbage we collected! They actually filled up a pickup truck! The ugly sight formed a sharp contrast to the clean, postcard-perfect scenery of the resort and the surrounding sea.
We couldn’t be any happier! We are honored and proud to be Project BLUE Scubasureros!
Our seas are vital for Earth’s survival. It is the engine for our planet’s weather system, the global supplier of food and oxygen, the final frontier for research of all fields of science, and the biggest natural playground filled with geological and biological wonders. We cannot live with a dead planetary ocean. Sadly, we are killing it due to greed, indifference, and a whole lack of understanding of this alien world.
Let me quote a passage by the famed astronomer Carl Sagan on his thoughts on the famous “The Pale Blue Dot” photograph. The Pale Blue Dot is a photo of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 Probe six billion kilometers away. In the photo, the Earth appears as an almost imperceptible dot in the vast darkness of the cosmos, suspended by a faint band of sunlight.
“The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.
There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Let us be Mother Nature’s stewards. Let us save our blue oceans.
Project BLUE is Bluewater Resorts dedicated team of divers and volunteers spearheading its coastal rehabilitation and marine conservation efforts. To know more about their endeavors, visit Project Blue’s Facebook page.