In this week’s Community Spotlight, Project AWARE catches up with Kelly Fletcher, a scuba diver in Queensland, Australia who has mobilized a community to keep their local waterways clean.
Tell us about your passion for ocean conservation.
I'm a diver and ocean activist. The awesome people that make up Environmental Divers come from all walks of life. A pretty random bunch really. The one thing we do have in common and share is a mutual passion and respect for the ocean and the creatures in it. While the task at hand can be confronting and seem overwhelming at times we always try to see the positives and have a laugh while we take out the trash.
Why and when did you get involved with Project AWARE?
We have all been involved with various Project AWARE clean up dives with many different groups over several years. Environmental Divers has been reporting the data from our Monthly Maintenance Dives at the Gold Coast Seaway with the Project AWARE team since early 2016. We look forward to working with Project AWARE for years to come and achieving some pretty amazing things in the process.
What are some issues that are affecting your local dive site or favorite underwater areas?
Our primary Adopt A Dive Site - The Gold Coast Seaway is one of the very few ocean access points that the extensive Gold Coast Waterways systems have to offer. It also offers possibly one of the most diverse shore dive sites along the East Coast of Australia and we love it! As a result, it is an excessively well-used area for both land and water based activities. As one of the few ocean exits the Gold Coast Seaway has a fairly constant stream of boat traffic, it is a highly fished area, and is very susceptible to delayed and prolonged runoff (aka the washing through of the rubbish) after any rain event, it is also a well used recreational area with people making the most of the wide variety of parklands and beaches on offer. Whilst Environmental Divers do remove a staggering amount of line litter and fishing related debris there is also a high volume of general rubbish and clothing related items.
Tell us about your work!
Adopt a Dive Site. Dive Against Debris Surveys. Generally hanging with our dive buddies who are awesome!
What has been the highlight of your Project AWARE experience?
Sharing the Project AWARE message and generally raising awareness on the global issue of marine debris with the general public is always amazing and rewarding. Especially if they happen to see us post dive with our “treasure”, it is amazing how people react once they register you spent your dive cleaning the ocean.
They soon realize that we are collectively working as a group of scuba divers to minimize human impact beneath the seas so that their children and future generations may have the chance to enjoy the ocean as we have. It opens up such amazing conversations. Children are always so fascinated and excited by the rubbish we remove and love looking at the photos of the fish you were just swimming with. They are full of 1001 questions. It makes for a fun surface interval and some definite warm fuzzy moments.
What is the most important thing you tell others about Project AWARE?
That they do amazing work around the globe, for some of our favorite marine friends the sharks and for the ocean in general. Great people doing great things, uniting other amazing people to do spectacular things. One dive at a time, making every dive count.
You can get involved with the Cleanup Crew from Environmental Divers by visiting their Facebook page.