TAR Park, Kota Kinabalu: It was Dive for Earth Day on 22 April and this year Downbelow had 30 eager participants already living on the island to help them pull off the biggest collection of rubbish on Gaya Island yet.

Earth Day & Dive for Earth Day

University of Glamorgan with their big pile of rubbish collected from Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu, SabahEarth Day has been around for decades and has gained momentum in recent years as global environmental problems have garnered more serious attention.

Dive for Earth Day is an extension of this movement to the marine environment and is actively promoted by the PADI Foundation, Project AWARE.

It’s an opportunity to spread the awareness of how problems that are so obvious on land affect the marine environment where it’s out of sight of our land dwelling cousins, but not divers.

The rubbish removal from the coast line illustrates that just because trash can’t be seen, doesn’t mean it’s gone.

University of Glamorgan Cleans Up

Cleaning the environment is no easy task and requires substantial manpower to make a difference.

This year, in its Project AWARE and Dive for Earth Day efforts, Downbelow was fortunate enough to already have a small army of just such manpower on Gaya Island.

Richard, in orange, with some of the Glamorgan Uni students and 1 of 4 big truck tires removed from the Gaya Island swampA group of 30 students form the University of Glamorgan in the UK had been camping on Gaya island for the week leading up to Dive for Earth day.

As a gesture of goodwill, whilst wrapping up their research project, they happily agreed to pitch in and help remove trash from the very environment they had been studying for the preceding week.

Trash – Lots and lots of trash

Gaya Island’s sensitive intertidal mangrove swamps were identified as the target of some Dive for Earth Day love.

The group organised themselves into a ground assault unit, who took the jungle paths along the shoreline to reach the swamps, and the amphibian unit, who got there by boat.

Together they spent the morning in the mangrove swamp and along the shore at other secluded spots and inlets around Gaya Island and removed stacks of trash from the environment.

Glamorgan students unloading Gaya island trash from the Downbelow boats

In total, the Glamorgan students and Downbelow crew removed 847kg of trash from the swamps and shoreline.

Glass bottles, plastics in various shapes and sizes, diapers and an assortment of other trash counted amongst the pile.

Most glaringly out of place were the 4 large truck tires. Gaya Island has no roads and no vehicles!

Dive for Earth Day!

To end a day of doing good, Downbelow’s Dive Shop donated a brand new dive computer to raise money to be donated to Project AWARE.

The students dug deep and raised AU$ 400 for the cause.

Thanks to the students from the University of Glamorgan, Dive for Earth Day 2011 was a great success.

More Project AWARE events are coming this year, so keep an eye on this blog and our Facebook page if you want to get involved.