Annual Report – Adopt a Dive Site

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Annual Report Covering the Period May 2016 to April 2017

ABSTRACT

Full report on the results of the monthly dives against debris carried out in our adopted dive site, Kontiki Marina, from April 2016 to May 2017.

Program: Project AWARE Adopt a Dive Site
Dive Site: Kontiki Marina, Mactan, Cebu, Philippines
Period: May 2016 to April 2017
By: Dive Funatics

I. Overview

In April 27, 2016, Dive Funatics pledged to protect the place we all love, the House Reef of Kontiki Marina, with Project Aware’s Adopt a Dive Site Program. In the said program, we pledged to carry out monthly clean-ups to help preserve our favorite underwater playground. At least one dive has been dedicated each month as a Dive Against Debris and the results of the clean-up has been religiously submitted to Project Aware for monitoring. In a span of one year, we have been supported by several patrons supporting our battle against debris. Our most sincere shout out is expressed to the following people who has dedicated at least a dive against debris to support our adopted dive site:

  • Dyordz Tumulak
  • Darren Angelo Bawasanta
  • May Vestil
  • Earl Vestil
  • Elvin Vestil
  • Merceditas Tautho
  • Nyl Kevin Tautho
  • Rikka Mae Estampador
  • Darwin Bawasanta
  • Atty. George M.F. Romea
  • Vanessa Beth Lua
  • Al McWalter Lim
  • Alfredo Intong
  • Christine Paula Love Bernasor
  • James Dollar
  • Ethan Groseclose
  • Amina Balocang
  • Tanya Lape
  • Jan Salise
  • Jayvee Gainsan
  • Dr. Karl John Koa
  • Ivy Maciejowski
  • Greg Maciejowski
  • Nezel
  • Belle Uy
  • SPO1 Joshua Gonzaga
  • Col. Alvin Gumacal
  • Melany
  • Pastor Benjun
  • Magno
  • Sabredo
  • Oli Mar
  • Mherie Joy Alforo
  • Rayleen Go
  • Emmeline Go
  • Rosimlyn Bermudo
  • Ana Clarisa Acuña
  • Ana Cecilia Acuña
  • Hilbert Pedroza
  • Gringo “Gringograss” Benedicto
  • Michelle Dy

We proudly present to you the results of our cumulative effort. We all look forward to a future Dive Against Debris with no debris to report. Until then, keep diving, don’t let your dives go to waste and don’t litter!

All in all, during the first year of our dedication, we have collected 271.89 pounds of underwater debris. In terms of piece count, this translates to 2,179 bits and pieces of trash. We’ve covered pretty much the same area within and around the buoys around Kontiki Marina averaging 262 square meters in each dive. Over the year, a total dive time of 597 minutes has been dedicated to the site by a total of 99 participating divers . Statistics for the first year of our commitment shows that there are roughly 3.65 pieces of debris picked up by the entire dive team for  every minute of the dive time spent underwater. There is roughly 1 piece of debris for every 1.4 square meters of area surveyed. On the average, 22 pieces of debris is picked up by  each diver participant during each dive against debris made.

Figure 1. Distribution of amount of monthly debris (in lb.) collected against participant count over a span of one year from Kontiki Marina.

If you take a closer look at the months with the highest collection, the top 25% contributors are the months of July, June, May of 2016 and April of 2017. It is expected that trash is most abundant during the summer months of March – June when tourist influx is anticipated. Another factor which can affect the amount of trash collected is the number of participants. During July 2016, we conducted a dive against debris in collaboration with PADI’s Women Dive Day which caused a skyrocketing of the normal participant count from the average of 8 to an actual count of 23. As a baseline, we have established our first-year average of 1.25 kg (or 2.75 lb) of debris by weight per participant, or 22 pieces of debris per participant. We look forward to how this fairs to the second-year average.

Figure 2 Monthly data of debris (in piece count) collected stacked by type of waste.

It is worthy to note that in all instances, plastic accounted for more than half of the total debris collected in terms of number count. During the one year period, plastic accounted for 63% of the total debris population, averaging at 64% for the twelve-month period with the highest observable percentage of 74% in September and the lowest at 45% during December.
Next to plastic by a very wide margin, the second biggest consistent waste type is Metal with a ratio (in relation to total quantity of debris collected) averaging 12% with the highest observable percentage of 18% in the month of September and the lowest at 6% in October.

Figure 3 Debris profile presented as percentage of total piece count for the 12-month period May 2016 to April 2017.

II. Plastic

Figure 4 Pareto distribution of the subcategories of debris falling under the major category "Plastic".

In a span of one year, we have freed the ocean from 1,366 pieces of plastic debris. Clearly, the biggest contributor is the subcategory of plastic fragments – due in fact to, well, one big plastic debris ends up to a dozen of plastic fragments and millions of nano-plastics all very harmful to marine life.
Among the subcategories identified by Project Aware, we are happy to report that we have not gathered even just a single unit of the following items in the span of one year:

  • balloons
  • balls
  • baskets, crates
  • bottles: oil/lube
  • cigarette lighters
  • cotton bud sticks
  • fishing: traps & pots
  • sheeting: tarpaulin, plastic sheets, palette wrap
  • buckets, drums & jerry cans: 2 litres or more
  • buoys & floats (plastic & foamed)
  • carpet (synthetic)
  • cigarette filters
  • six-pack rings, ring carriers
  • strapping bands (plastic)
  • syringes (plastic)
  • tampon applicators
  • toothbrushes

Below is a chart depicting the monthly profile of the subcategory of plastic debris collected shown as how it stacks up over the year.

Figure 5 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Plastics" stacked, by piece count, per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017.

It can be observed from this chart that among the problematic plastic debris of Kontiki Marina, which constantly gets picked up month by month are the following, arranged according to level of severity:

  1. plastic fragments
  2. fishing lines
  3. food wrappers
  4. beverage bottes
  5. cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons

As seen in the Pareto Chart above (Figure 4), these 5 items compose 82% of the total plastic debris collected.

It should be noted that the area is host to a community of marginal income earners some relying livelihood in catching of fish. The area is also a jump-off point for several boat operators servicing tourists for island hopping. This pretty much explains the plastic debris profile of the locality.

Among the plastic subcategories of debris falling on least concern (in terms of quantity and frequency of collection, not necessarily the impact of that item to marine life) are gloves, straw and stirrers, bait containers and packaging, fishing nets, plastic pipes and SCUBA gear.

What we find most alarming is the consistent appearance of diapers in the ocean. The numbers are not high, 22 in total which comprise only 1.6% of total plastics collected, but the evidence of this type of debris goes to tell us that there are a lot of irresponsible parents out there who are likely to raise kids comfortable with the idea of throwing literally their own waste to the ocean.

This does not only harm fish and marine life but this is a public health issue as well. We need to raise more awareness and educate the public about the implications of their actions.

III. Glass

Figure 6 Pareto distribution of the subcategories of debris falling under the major category "Glass".

A total of 92 counts of glass materials has been collected from the House Reef of Kontiki over the first year of our efforts. More than 80% of the entire population of glass materials pertain to glass beverage bottles. They come in the form of soda bottles, beer bottles and other liquor. There have been a number of beverage bottles which were not collected due to some marine life already making homes out of them.

Among the subcategories recognized by Project Aware under Glass, we are happy to report that we have not gather even just a single unit of the following items in the span of one year:

  • buoys (glass)
  • fluorescent light tubes
  • jars: food (glass)
  • light globes: bulbs, etc
  • syringes (glass)

Below is a chart depicting the monthly profile of the subcategory of glass debris collected shown as how it stacks up over the year.

Figure 7 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Glass" stacked per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

From the data presented above, it can be inferred that the most problematic glass debris in Kontiki Marina is the consistent presence of glass beverage bottles in each of the dives against debris made. There was never a dive which did not yield a glass beverage bottle. The problem with glass bottles is that it will last, according to coastalcare.og, 1,000,000 years at sea. With the erratic water movement, whole glass bottles can be smashed against corals creating instant damage upon impact. They will eventually break and may wound humans and marine life alike. Shards of glass will eventually be refined by the sand particles and we can only guess how much of these bits and pieces of glass end up being ingested by marine life.

 

IV. Metal

Figure 8 Pareto distribution of the subcategories of debris falling under the major category "Metals"

We have managed to collect 248 pieces of metal debris from Kontiki Marina in our first year of clearing debris from our beloved adopted dive site. The first major contributor to the count are tin cans, followed by metal caps and lids. Third by a great margin are aluminum beverage cans closely followed by foil/metal wrappers. There were instances of tin cans no longer picked up as marine life has already started to flourish in and around them.

Among the subcategories identified by Project Aware under Metals, we are happy to report that we have not gathered even just a single unit of the following items in the span of one year:

  • aerosol/spray cans
  • appliances: household
  • batteries: car or boat
  • drums: 55 gallon
  • fishing: traps & pots
  • forks, knives, spoons (cutlery)
  • gas bottles/cylinder, drums: more than 4 litres
  • pull tabs: beverages
  • scuba weights
  • strapping bands (metal)

Below is a chart depicting the monthly profile of the subcategory of plastic debris collected shown as how it stacks up over the year.

Table 9 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Metals" stacked per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

Over the year, the following subcategories dominated 86% of the total metal debris collected, arranged according to level of severity:

  1. cans: Food/juice, Other (tin)
  2. caps & Lids (metal)
  3. beverage Cans (aluminum)
  4. wrappers (foil/metal)

These types of debris are highly likely to be coming from the island hopping operations happening nearby. We cannot stress enough the importance of sustainable eco tourism.

 

V. Rubber

There were only two subcategories of rubber collected from Kontiki Marina – Inner-tubes & Rubber Sheets and Rubber Fragments. A total of 30 counts of rubber debris has been collected during the year, Rubber Fragments comprise 73% of the collected debris. The remaining 27% pertains to inner tubes and rubber sheets.

We are happy to report that we have never come across the following subcategories of rubber in our one-year of debris collection:

  • condoms
  • rubber gloves
  • rubber
  • tires
Figure 10 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Rubber" stacked per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

VI. Wood

Of the wooden debris collected, there were only 124 counts of items collected from the area of Kontiki Marina. Of the 124, 122 pertains to wood fragments, 1 pertains to wooden furnishings and 1 pertains to wooden fishing traps and pots.

Figure 11 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Wood" stacked per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

VII. Cloth

The numbers represented by the subcategory cloth is not alarming at only 7% of the total debris count (see Figure 3) for the entire year but the idea of 110 cloth fragments and 24 towels/rags potentially covering surface area of corals is heartbreaking. The effect of this scenario is devastating as the corals, in order to support life, need to support the symbiotic relationship they have with algae who, in turn, need sunlight to support the symbiotic relationship with the coral. And when a wide surface area of a coral is deprived of sunlight for a long time, the damage sometimes is beyond repair.

Among the subcategories recognized by Project Aware under Cloth, we are happy to report that we have not gathered even just a single unit of bags (burlap/hessian) and gloves (cloth).

Figure 12 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Cloth" stacked by piece count per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

VIII. Paper

Over the year, a total of 118 pieces of paper debris was collected. Due to characteristic of paper which gets torn very easily, 86% of this count pertains to paper and carboard fragments. We might take paper debris lightly it being highly degradable, but micro pieces of paper floating in water is easily mistaken by marine animals as potential food particle and gets ingested. Paper offers no nutritional benefit to fishes and other marine life. They get the feeling of satiety after eating paper but this does not support a healthy growth.

This is the only category of debris which Kontiki Marina has collected at least one unit of each of the subcategory specifically identified by Project Aware.

Figure 13 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Paper" stacked by piece count per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

IX. Mixed Materials

Debris collected under the mixed materials category includes clothing, computer equipment & other electronic devices and shoes-flip flops, sandals, tennis, etc. We have not collected any bricks, cinderblocks, chunks of cement, fireworks, tampons and toys.

Figure 14 Profile of debris under the subcategory "Mixed Materials" stacked by piece count per month during the 12-month period from May 2016 to April 2017

X. Other Materials

Below is the list of other materials we have found during our first year of the efforts:

  • Item

  • paint brush
  • electric wire
  • charcoal
  • duct tape fragment
  • packaging tape fragment
  • biodegradable bowl
  • motorbike side mirror
  • coconut husk
  • wet wipes
  • plastic packaging of snorkeling set
  • eye wear lens
  • playing card pieces
  • feminine napkin
  • washing machine drain hose
  • Total Count

  • 2
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 24
  • 1
  • 1
  • 2
  • 1
  • 1

Some of the above items might have been more appropriately counted as “plastic fragment” and others. Early on the efforts we still have some difficulty sorting out the type of debris and they were reported as such. As evidenced by our learning curve, there are months where we have reported nothing under the category. However, moving forward, we wish to consider making a specific count for wet wipes because we have been seeing them a lot and they raise the same threat we have identified with cloth.

XI. Entangled Animals

In June 2016, we found a nudibranch with a fishing line twisted around it’s midline. As to whether or not that nudibranch was just playing obstacle relay, we will never know. Regardless, the line was cut and the nudibranch was released unharmed.

In July 2016, in one of the many rolls of clothing we have collected, there was one dead juvenile brokenline wrasse rolling along with it.

XII. Summary

We have come a long way in gathering underwater debris. Month by month we have religiously collected data and we are very proud to present the same. Although we believe we are still far from the possibility of doing a dive against debris with no debris to report, we are very hopeful our efforts will pave the way to more education and awareness to the locality.

It’s not enough that we clean up after everyone. Everyone should be made aware of the repercussions of their own actions. We still are dedicated to this cause and as such, if you’ve read this report up to this part, I’d like to remind you once again, to keep diving, don’t let your dives go to waste, don’t litter and keep bubbling and creating ripples of change!

We hope to see the scuba diving community of Cebu embarking on the same consistent, regular, responsible and sustainable efforts in the coming months.

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