SINGAPORE - It was hardly diving for treasure, but when 20 volunteers emerged from the waters around Raffles Lighthouse with plastic and glass bottles, ropes and an old tyre it was a small battle won in the war against sea pollution.
The divers collected 110kg of marine litter during last Saturday's (June 2) event, organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on Friday (June 8).
The rubbish was sorted and brought back to mainland for proper disposal.
Data gathered on the types and sources of marine debris collected will be included in a global survey which hopes to understand and tackle the source of marine pollution.
The divers also organised a second dive to photograph the marine biodiversity in the area.
NParks and experts from community group Friends of Marine Park will then identify the different species and log them in a biodiversity database. Four categories of marine animals were documented - molluscs, echinoderms (such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers), fish and coral.
Among the volunteers was marine biologist and recreational diver Desmond Ong, 32. He said that clean-up dives have picked up traction over the past year due to an increasing awareness of marine pollution, adding: "I love the environment. This is one way for me to do my part."
He added that there was a "fair bit of trash found", despite the dive site being a relatively untouched area. "The coral reefs around Raffles Lighthouse are some of the most protected in Singapore. They are home to rich marine biodiversity", Mr Ong said.
Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of the MPA, said that keeping our waters clean is a shared responsibility. He added: "We can show the world that Singapore can be both a busy port as well as a marine environment rich in biodiversity."
The MPA deploys boats to collect rubbish from ships anchored in the port as well as floating debris along the common channels, fairways and anchorages.
Members of the public can also help during the quarterly Clean-Up on Kayak event, where volunteers remove and sort floating litter.