October 05

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Giving Back To Mother Nature

The Philippines is full of natural beauty. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have traveled on my trips worldwide. Thanks to our incredible Pulse program, I get to live here for six months. I continue to be amazed at the natural wonders here above and below the sea.

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One of my life long passions is scuba diving. While I have been diving since my late teens, the US climate somewhat limits the number of times I dive throughout the year. The lack of temperature change makes year round diving very feasible in the Philippines. I have spent several weekends doing just that. Unfortunately, the ocean continues to the recipient of trash. This debris not only deters from the sea’s natural beauty, it also harms many living creatures.

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Coastal Cleanup Day is dedicated to the improvement of beaches, coastal regions and surrounding areas worldwide. It has operated for over 26 years. I had the privilege to participate in this year’s cleanup group and picked up trash underwater for a weekend.

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This cleanup is not only international, it is the largest volunteer effort for ocean’s health. Held annually every third weekend in September, people around the world gather on beaches, coasts, rivers, waterways and underwater dive sites to remove trash and record information on the debris collected. I picked up five bags of trash during my eight scuba dives this weekend. I even got a commemorative t shirt for my efforts.

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‘The Ocean Trash Index presents state-by-state and country-by-country data about ocean trash collected and tallied by volunteers around the world on one day each fall during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup’, according to its director. Results will aid in better waste management policies/plans, product packaging designs and in stirring environmental consciousness among the people.

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The government offers the added bonus of funding dives for all PADI certified divers. That means there is no charge for equipment or boat rentals. Volunteers have collected data since 1986, and the numbers are used to raise awareness, identify hotspots for debris or unusual trash events, and inform policy solutions.

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Photo is courtesy of Ocean Conservancy.

 

Cleanups alone can’t solve this pollution problem. Nevertheless, this effort provides a snapshot of what’s trashing our ocean so we can work to prevent specific items from reaching the water in the first place. We humans all need to take care of, opposed to destroying Mother Earth. Every creature deserves an opportunity to thrive.

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Now, for the fun part, let me take you underwater with me. I observed such amazing fish and sea life under the ocean’s surface.

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I got to cut a plastic tie off a turtle and followed him to ensure his safety. He swam great and was glad to be free.

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Another diver in my group freed a leopard shark that was caught on a fishing line not properly disposed of.

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I also got an extreme close up of a sea urchin on another dive.

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I have never seen such large corals reefs. They literally go on for miles.

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I also swam through several schools of fish. They were so bright and beautiful. I almost felt like one of them as I was completely relaxed in the moment.

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The ocean offers far more than meets the eye at the surface. Thinking back to GSK, so many medicines are derived from the sea. For example horseshoe crabs are able to provide a medical ingredient for burn victims and they are released back into the ocean after the process. Could another medicine be found here that could provide a cure for cancer?

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I hope seeing this natural beauty will make each of you encourage someone not to litter. Most often, even trash thrown out on land winds up in the sea. Every living creature is a wonderful gift from our creator and deserves the right to thrive. Please join me in preserving our beautiful planet.

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