Diving for trash

03:23, May 18 2009
RIGHT DIRECTION: Tony Howell and dive shop staff Andrew Lett and Sarah Lodge, with a brass compass and other treasures found on past clean-up dives.

A group of divers will be splashing for trash this Sunday at Mana Marina to mark Earth Day.

New Zealand Sea Adventures owner-operator Tony Howell has been involved in many clean-up dives before but says this is the first time they've organised a dive for Earth Day (officially recognised tomorrow, April 22).

He believes the work makes a long-term difference to the local environment. "We've done clean-ups some years and have gone back the next year and been surprised at how little rubbish has accumulated."

He says most of the rubbish pulled out of the sea is plastic; especially plastic bags, as well as aluminium cans and bottles.

"It's people who are being a wee bit careless, or they're not aware of what the end result is, of not putting rubbish in the rubbish bin. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down."

Some more unusual finds have included road marker cones, shopping trolleys, a scooter, bikes and a valuable large brass compass.

"We find a lot of things that have fallen out of people's pockets. Cell phones, reading glasses, and then there's a lot of things like beer bottles, that people just chuck in the water so they can't be seen ... Plastic is the most worrying I think."

Mr Howell says the Mana Marina is a very well kept marina, but when rubbish ends up in the sea it can travel and accumulate at different places. He says rubbish in the sea can affect small sea mammals like seals that can get tangled.

Karoline Tuckey is a Massey University journalism student.