Five divers from Visakhapatnam clear 7000 kilograms of waste from the seabed

Divers pulling out trash from the seabed   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

When Subhash Chandra went for a swim off the Rushikonda Coast, he had little idea of what awaited him. Instead of corals and beautiful fishes he imagined he would encounter, just as they showed in documentaries, he was in for a rude shockas his legs kept getting entangled in remnants of fishing nets, discarded cloth and plastic.

The professional scuba diver and founder of a scuba-diving institute Platypus Escapes, a decided then and there that something had to be done about this. So, along with a friend he went free-diving again to assess how much more of trash awaited them underwater.

The team of professional scuba divers is often assisted by volunteers

The team of professional scuba divers is often assisted by volunteers  

There was plenty. “Just about 100 metres from the shore and two metres deep, we were stunned to see the bed layered with plastic wrappers. There were also PET and glass bottles, cement packets, pieces of cloth and footwear,” says the outraged Subhash who has been diving for the past 13 years.

How you can help
  • If you are an experienced swimmer, contact the team.
  • They also need volunteers on the shore who will segregate the waste that the divers bring out of the sea and responsibly dispose it.
  • For details 9434261503

All that trash

Since then Subhash along with his team of four— Padmavati Mandipalli, Sachin Sharma, Divya Teja and Sargada Appanna - has dived 19 times and cleared about 7000 kilograms of waste from the seabed. “The sea is our second home. Would you tolerate plastic waste littered all over your living room? We feel the same way about the sea,” says the 30-year-old who has worked as a scuba diver in Goa, Karnataka and Andaman Nicobar Islands before moving to Visakhapatnam in almost a year ago.

Their day begins at 6.30 a.m. armed with goggles, net bag and boots they dive in. Unless the weather conditions are unfavourable, the team spends almost three hours every morning in the sea before heading back to their day jobs. Each diver ends up making at least four trips to the shore to empty the filled net bags. Each bag can hold around 80 kilograms of waste.

“It looks like this waste has been lying there for years. The plastic bags are filled with sand and this makes clearing them a time consuming process,” says Padmavati.

“We would appreciate it if any organisation working in the waste management sector would take charge of reusing or recycling the collected plastic,” she adds.

The team has been scouring the same stretch of the sea for two months. “The seabed near Rushikonda is filled with rocks, so there is a lot of plastic that gets stuck in between,” Divya Teja an intern with Platypus Escapes discloses.

Picture of a plastic wrapper found underwater

Picture of a plastic wrapper found underwater  

One of the most heartbreaking things is seeing fish trapped in plastic, struggling to get out, says Divya Teja. During our clean-up drives we try to get them out.”

Did you know?
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of plastic in the world. It is located between Hawaii and California.
  • Approximately 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the oceans each year.
  • More than half of this plastic is less dense than water due to which it does not sink.
  • Researchers have estimated that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while over four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea

Hoping for better

Visakhapatnam has the potential to be a scuba-diving destination, but the polluted seabed is a setback. “Popular tourists beaches like Rushikonda and RK Beach are definitely a problem; but it would be unfair to say all the beaches are as bad. Two or three kilometres deep near Mangamaripeta marine life can be seen in all its majesty and beauty. We have spotted soft corals and a few hard corals in this stretch. But for these to thrive they need to be away from human hindrance,” says Subhash.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 10:30:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/five-divers-from-visakhapatnam-clear-7000-kilograms-of-waste-from-the-seabed/article30048967.ece

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