When you scuba dive above the arctic circle, you expect pure nature. Sadly we found car tires, toilets, washing machines, waffle irons and plenty of fishing equipment on the sea bed this summer.
The Islands of Lofoten in Northern Norway is internationally known for its steep mountains, narrow fjords and breath taking scenery. This arctic jewel showcase nature in its purest form. Scuba divers will find the rainforest of the ocean; A massive kelp forest which is the nursery area for an incredible amount of marine life.
Out of sight – out of mind
Marine litter is a globally increasing problem. It is estimated that 10 million tons of litter ends up in the world’s oceans and seas – each year! The minor problem is that the garbage is filling up the beaches and coastal areas and represents visual pollution. The major problem is that micro plastic ends up in the food chain and causes massive death of sea birds, fish and marine mammals.
Jan Gunnar Berg, leader in Bodø Sportsdykkerklubb, tries to tune in «Reiseradioen».
The really sad thing is that the garbage you find on the beaches is only 15% of the total problem. Additional 15 % can be found floating in the water column, while the remaining 70 % can be found on the sea bed. In other words; the majority of the marine litter can only be seen by scuba divers.
Awareness and clean up
In order to increase awareness of the unbelievable amount of garbage on the sea bed, scuba divers all over Norway have joined forces. The many clean up campaigns are sponsored by the Savings Bank Foundation DNB.
«One more piece of garbage in my hood, and I´ll smack your face!» Arnt Steve Teigland from Harstad Sportsdykkerklubb with remains of fishing equipment.
Every year, in the end of July, scuba divers gather on Sandviken Camping outside the city of Kabelvåg. The event is organized by Harstad Sportsdykkerklubb. This year it was decided to focus on the environment and perform a clean-up campaign in the unspoiled waters of Lofoten.
Scuba divers leaving Sandviken Camping for another dive.
It turned out that even here, the garbage on the sea bed was very present. Car tires, fishing tools, plastic toys and more were raised to the surface.
Frank Erik Hagen with a tractor tire.
Nils Roger Mathisen from Harstad Sportsdykkerklubb removing plastic bags an other garbage from the sea bed.
Dan Ove Valrygg from Bodø Sportsdykkerklubb with a nice garbage catch.
The narrow outlet of Vaterfjorden is an incredible dive site. The strong current ensures that colourful sea anemones covers the sea bed. Unfortunately, the area has clearly been used as garbage dump an a waffle iron, toilets and various household appliances were found.
Magne BS from Bodø Sportsdykkerklubb with the biggest catch of the day
The Vaterfjorden dive site is also very popular as a fishing spot and this is reflected on the sea bed. The fishing lures made by lead could be seen everywhere. It´s just a small fishing lure you might say, but who has not lost one or several while fishing? In the popular fishing spot Saltstraumen outside Bodø, the local diving club has picked 7 tons of fishing lures since 2005!
WEDIVE.no team member Vidar with one of many fishing lures.
During the week, two big bags (2 cubic meters) of garbage were filled up and removed by Lofoten Avfallsselskap. Scuba divers participated from Harstad Sportsdykkerklubb, Bodø Sportsdykkerklubb, Lødingen Sportsdykkerklubb, Hadsel Undervannsklubb, Ishavsbyen Dykkerklubb and Stavanger Dykkerklubb.
Part of the clean up team. From left: Vidar Skålevik (WEDIVE.no), Frank Erik Hagen, Nils Roger Mathisen, Jan Gunnar Berg, Arnt Steve Teigland, Dan Ove Valrygg and Siv Pedersen (WEDIVE.no).
Make sure to see the clean up video here: