Monday, 20 May 2013

May 7th Green Drinks - Green Divers

On Tuesday May 7th the Irish Wildlife Trust Dublin Branch gathered in the top floor of J.W. Sweetman (formerly Messrs Maguires) to hear Seamus Heffernan talk about the Green Divers initiative. Green Divers aim is to encourage the protection of coastal areas and raise awareness of Irish marine life, and to organise monthly underwater and shoreline clean ups in the Dublin area. Most people may not realise that as well as litter on land, there is also a lot of litter underwater, both from boats and litter washed out to sea, and  that marine litter is a major problem along our coasts. The Green Divers initiative aims to do something about this by encouraging divers to do a bit of litter picking when they dive and take some litter ashore with them. This involves a monthly shoreline and underwater clean up in a scenic coastal area, with a barbeque afterwards where the hard working volunteers can unwind. The litter that is removed is recorded so that the kinds of litter can be better known and the impact of marine debris better understood.

Seamus went through all the different types of litter that can be found on the sea floor, and also talked about the amazing diversity of Irish marine life found in the Irish sea.  As well as the usual problems from glass and plastic bottles and drink cans, a major source of littering comes from old car tyres, which are used by boats to prevent damage from bumping into harbour walls and each other. Inevitably many become detached and are lost overboard. It was once thought that dumping old car tyres would help to create underwater reefs, but this idea didn't work and now in places like Florida, millions of old car tyres litter the sea floor and have to be expensively removed. Old fishing lines and nets are also a major problem as they become a major problem for wildlife. 

To save us all from getting too depressed, Seamus interspersed his pictures of litter with some of the amazing and colourful wildlife to be seen around our coastline. As well as unusual fish like the butterfish and common dragonet, Seamus' passion for wildlife made us see the beauty in creatures like sponges, worms and echinderms (starfish, sea-urchins etc). And who knew that the octupus was a kind of mollusc! Everyone was much better informed about our marine wildlife, and those of you familiar with IWT will know that the Green Diver initiative fits wonderfully into ourSustainable Seas and Pretty Litter Campaigns

Some litter from 40 foot clean up

Double spiral worm

Seamus explains Green Divers to RTE