It is estimated that between 5-10 million tonnes of trash enter our oceans each year, the majority of which is plastic. Some types of plastic take hundreds of years to decompose. During this time, they have the potential to cause significant damage to coral reefs and the organisms that live there. Trash items may cause mechanical damage to coral structures, or prevent polyps from gaining access to light, both of which significantly affect the coral’s ability to survive. Trash items may deceive organisms into thinking they are prey, and have often resulted in an organism’s death when consumed in large quantities. Many species also face the risk of entanglement in certain pieces of trash, and reports of damage or death to marine organisms from entanglement has been frequently reported.
Dive Against Debris Project Aware
The Roctopus ecoTrust conduct regular underwater reef cleans around the island, removing trash items that are likely to cause damage to local reef ecosystems. Roctopus are active members of the non-profit marine conservation organisation Project AWARE, and contribute data to their Dive Against Debris program. This program aims to prevent the accumulation of trash in marine environments by working with volunteer divers all across the world. Data collected from the Dive Against Debris program is used to help inform policy decisions including the effective prevention and management of marine debris.

The Roctopus ecoTrust submit data on the quantity and type of trash items that are collected during reef clean dives. Understanding what trash items are most commonly found around coral reef ecosystems provides useful information on what materials and disposable products may pose the greatest threat to certain reef types or other marine environments, on both a local and global scale. Data is also submitted on the location and characteristics of the collection site. This information allows for correlations to be made between trash accumulation and environmental conditions, and helps to identify reef types that may be at a greater risk of being exposed to threats associated with marine debris, therefore requiring more focussed conservation efforts.

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