The month of September is all too important to the diving community, internationally every third Saturday is declared as coastal and underwater cleanup. For the past years marine enthusiasts and environmentalists gather together sharing resources and time and for this endeavor. They have gone a long way to protect and preserve our oceans and the amazing life that contain our vast waters.
As a diver, I have always wanted to be part of it, connected with all other in the waters to gather trash and marine debris. So last September 21 together with my favorite dive buddy, we joined my dive mentors group at Opol Marine Sanctuary. Mario had coordinated with LGU Opol, XU McKeough Research Center (MRC), local tourism office and other groups for the clean-up. It was an opportunity to see him, meet other divers and to revisit the sanctuary which we dove three years back for the same purpose.
It was a sunny Saturday and Mario had been waiting for us at the resort, AJIS resort grounds was in cheery mode when I got there. We finally left at past 9am when Angel arrived from far-off Languindingan airport, heading for Sakayan to transport us all off coast Opol waters. It was unfortunate I forgot our net trash bag, the surface seemed clean but the underwater held surprising debris. I descend finally with Angel after I surfaced shortly to change my BC as it kept inflating, making it hard for me to control my buoyancy.
Opol is one of the town facing environmental safeguards issue, in fact it was one of the areas that suffered the devastation from Tropical Storm Sendong in 2011, small scale mining upstream made Opol river murky even without the rains. This unwanted sediments flowed into the Opol seacoast which affected the marine environment. But judging from what we saw, there has been much improvement underwater three years ago. The visibility was good and there were more tropical fishes roving the area. Healthy corals around the sanctuary are now abundant, I sighted giant clams and colorful nudis, Angel found a moray which quickly hid when I got near. Yes, we found trashes – plastic bottles, sachets, plastics, clothing and a large tire! Unfortunately, the tire was too heavy we need flotation device to carry up to surface. It was a productive dive and I was wishing for another descent – our one hour underwater was just too short for that sunny day. The water was too reviving for my dried-up gills! It was my fourth year to be part of this undertaking and I was thankful my favorite dive buddy came over for the dive clean-up here in Cagayan de Oro.
Let us not forget that this fight is not just once but whole year round. It’s a diver’s lifestyle, a habit, a pledge to fight the ocean silent killer. We can all do it!