There are a 101 reasons why you should look up Operation Wallacea in Indonesia if you are the type of person that has any kind of interest in marine conservation and I can highly recommend it as one of the best and most well organised and high quality conservation experiences you will find.
The aim of this brief article is to talk about one very small part of this project and that is the weekly beach cleans that happen on Snake Island from the Bau Bau site.
A stone skip away from the base at Nirwana Beach Villa, on a short boat trip moors you up to what appears from a distance to be a pristine white, sandy beach. At a closer glance plastic bottles, cans, old shoes, straws, disposable cups and the dreaded plastic bag appear. It mirrors the reality that from afar things don’t nessasaily seem that bad but when you look up close you realise that we have a big problem.
Imin, dive operation manager at the Bau Bau site attends the beach cleans weekly armed with volunteers, marine biology students, dive masters and instructors, local staff and friends to walk a stretch of beach that each week despite the previous clean seems as covered in rubbish as the week before. The focus on this small area of island and body of water that drags in litter that has been dumped in various other locations and arrives here is forefront to the passion behind Op Wall, that passion to change things, make them better and most importantly make a difference.
Tony Beety, Divemaster at Op Wall said, ‘I am always shocked by the amount of rubbish that has washed up on this stunning island only a week after our previous clean. As a keen diver for over 20 years I have literally witnessed the oceans degradation and the increased volume of trash that has contributed to its decline.’
It’s quite special to see people coming together in efforts such as this who then walk away realising that as a problem it’s something we as a community, a society and a planet, cannot walk away from anymore.
Beach cleans happen globally and they are all inspired and instigated by individuals, which we know is how most change is invoked. The Bau Bau site at Op Wall is a tremendous example of these type of individuals coming together and exposing this catastrophic global issue but also trying to minimise it one beach clean at a time.
Students take part in various activities and courses at Op Wall ranging from open water dive training to coral reef ecology education. The Beach cleans for me round off the vital sentiment that if we are to continue to enjoy these marine environments, species, corals, locations, all of these things that people come here to learn about we have to save, preserve and protect them.
I suppose the key point here is that you don’t need to be on an island in Indonesia to collect a few pieces of trash as you go for a walk but you can focus on where you live or those places that you love and take a closer look at a problem that is very quickly desamating it all. You can look up organised beach cleans in your local area or just go by yourself armed with a bag but the most important thing is that we all take part in whatever capacity that may be if we are to alter our environmental fate.