Spirits were high and friendships were formed on this year’s International Coastal Cleanup day in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic. 11 divers from 8 different nationalities volunteered to go diving at Catalina Island to clean up this beloved dive- and snorkeling site. After a quick briefing highlighting why the ocean is so important and what effects pollution have on the environment as well as tourism, the diving commenced.
Catalina Island is one of the Dominican Republic’s major tourist attractions. Just off the coast of this paradise island there are some of the most favoured dive sites and snorkeling spots of the area. Catalina Island’s waters have been a Marine Protected Area since 2007 in order to preserve the historical remains of what is believed to be Captain William Kidd’s 1699 Quedagh Merchant as well as the coral reef and its inhabitants.
The pollution/garbage accumulating on the coast of Catalina Island poses a threat to the health of the underwater eco system. It is believed that after heavy rainfall and the flooding of the Chavon River in La Romana together with the currents of the Caribbean Sea, the pollution is constantly being washed up on the shores of Catalina Island.
The team of divers descended to about 4 to 6 meters and after 25 minutes the divers stumbled upon a graveyard of old plastic and other garbage. Some divers even found remnants of old toys like doll heads. After a total of 75 minutes the divers collected 15 full black bags of trash including plastic bottles and bags, shoes as well as a few tires from the bottom of the otherwise gorgeous and full of life reef bordering the famous Catalina Wall.
High fives were in abundance and a sense of comradeship was established among the whole dive team. Lunch was served on Catalina Beach where there were talks of making this initiative a recurring event in the local dive community in order to promote sustainable tourism as well as raise awareness regarding the importance of conserving the beautiful coral reefs.
It was a heartwarming experience having people from different backgrounds and life stories come together for this mutual cause. Thanks to the local dive shop – ScubaFun and excursion company – SeavisTours for sponsoring this important day and to Cluster Turistico La Romana Bayahibe for facilitating the event. A massive thank you to the awesome divers that made it all possible: Alessandro Siviero, Ramon Tilanus, Nick White, Florentin Abbet, Roxy De St. Pern, Igor Obocki, Anne Nordestgaard Dyrehauge, Rasmus Scheel Nielsen, Sara Pallotti, Albert Turi and Kirsten Tilanus.