You see it every day. It’s a normal occurrence. You may scoff at it; give it a dirty look. Perhaps even utter your shame and disgust at its culprit. Still you keep walking. After all, you didn’t put it there. It’s ok. We all do it. In fact it is so common a sight, that quite often we don’t even actually see it. Litter. Garbage. Trash. Tossed away and left to decorate our streets, forests and oceans forever.
Not-so-many years ago, it was common practice to throw your undesirables out-of-sight, out-of-mind, wherever that may be. And it was ok. Nobody frowned or scoffed. It was the norm. As time goes by we have learned that just because everybody does it doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. Just who litters these days anyway? Have a look around. I dare you to look at the ground the very first second you step outside. As evolved and advanced as we Vancouverites may think we are, we still have a long way to go. The good news is, we are learning.
Most people know by now that litter is bad. But just how bad and why? Think about the majority of litter we see. Cigarette butts, plastic bags, pop cans and their plastic holders are all items that blow in the wind, slip into drains and end up in our sensitive ocean. Most people don’t think of the ocean as being fragile, though despite its awesome power, it is. One danger is that chemicals are released as the materials break down, seeping into our nourishing waters and carried around the world creating a toxic soup affecting all of us. The world cannot survive without its oceans and we are poisoning them. Because all the oceans are really one big ocean connected, that means that what a person does to the ocean on this side has the potential to affect the ocean everywhere and vice versa. Another issue involves other creatures who depend on the ocean for sustenance. Attractive and shiny bits of garbage are tempting to many sea creatures and birds who mistakenly ingest them for a tasty morsel, often causing them to suffer a premature death.
Knowing this, the Diving Locker Girls decided to do something about it. In the spirit of truly being green, we organized an Underwater Cleanup event for St. Patrick’s Day and invited all our diver friends and families to come out and, well, cleanup underwater.
We needed to know where the problem areas were and it had to be somewhere easily accessible for divers of various skill levels. Brianna and I started with a few sites close to the city, thinking for sure there must be loads of junk. First we went to Cates Park and Deep Cove in North Vancouver. Cates Park was completely clean while Deep Cove had just a small amount of garbage near where the boats were. Next we headed west to Ambleside to see what we could find. Nothing. Not bad. Then we ventured to Kitsilano, near our Dive Shop and dove into the waters surrounding Kits Beach. Also clean. Very good Vancouver! Still, we weren’t fooled. Finally we ventured across town to a site notoriously known as a “dirty site” Belcarra Park in Port Moody. It is noticeable right away that the Park’s Grounds people take very good care of the area and there are many signs urging people to be respectful of the sea life, don’t litter, don’t use balloons, etc. The beautiful park, roughly a 20 minute scenic drive through a densely forested, natural area, is indeed very clean. On the surface. At the far end there is a crabbing dock just off the beach and a few boat docks in the area as well. That combined with the fact that it is nestled in a small bay area tucked off the side of a channel directly across from North Vancouver, along which many of the tides and currents sweep through carrying anything and everything light enough to float or roll – and then some the site has all the right ingredients to harbor undesirables.
Brianna and I geared up and jumped in. Almost instantly, in just a few feet of water, we could tell that this was indeed a dirty