(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Mon 2 Oct 2023, 5:04 PM
Last updated: Mon 2 Oct 2023, 7:43 PM
Most UAE residents visit La Mer beach to swim, sunbath and relax. But for diving instructor Chloe Griffin, beach days involve diving down to the bottom of the ocean to collect bits of litter and human-created waste.
As the founder of Chloe Blue Diving Club, the 34-year-old British national has organised marine debris dives every month for the past three years.
Griffin and her team of volunteers have so far picked up around 500kg of ocean debris from the waters around the coastline of La Mer, and she is responsible for maintaining the area under the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Adopt a Dive Site scheme.
Inspiring environmental action
Alongside the debris dives, Chloe Blue offers other eco-friendly activities such as coral conservation workshops and fish identification sessions. Griffin explains that she was inspired to start her club, which is the only marine-conservation focused dive school in Dubai, after she encountered an animal in distress.
“When you look out over the Gulf, you just see beautiful blue water. You don't see the marine life that is entangled in debris beneath the surface,” she says.
“The idea for Chloe Blue was formed after I went diving in Fujairah a few years ago. I saw a moray eel that had swallowed a fishing net. It was completely wrapped in it and really struggling. I tried as hard as I could to free it, but they have two sets of jaws and it was an impossible task. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like it and it really upset me. It made me determined to do something about ocean pollution.”
The rubbish collected during the debris dives mainly consists of crisp packets, bottles and cans left over from picnickers, plastic bags, cigarette buts and fishing nets. Sanitary pads are another constant.
“During every dive we find about 10 to 15 sanitary pads. It's quite disgusting and we use sticks to pick them up. I keep meaning to get in touch with the municipality about it. However, since the ban on single-use plastic bags was enforced, I've noticed a reduction in the number of supermarket bags out there. That's a real positive,” Griffin adds.
To join in one of the debris dives you must have a PADI Open Water certification and be a strong swimmer. Participants are provided with gloves and equipment and trained in what to pick up and what to leave behind. Afterwards, all the waste is sorted, recycled and logged.
Griffin explains that in some cases, not all litter needs to be removed.
“For instance, if a hermit crab has already used a discarded glass to make its home, we leave it there as it's not really harming anything,” she notes.
“Cleaning the ocean can be very therapeutic. It's satisfying to see how nice the site looks when we're done.”
Educating the next generation
Along with running dive trips around Dubai, Fujairah and Oman, Griffin delivers talks on marine life at schools and events, and co-hosts the ocean sustainability podcast Ocean Sisters. Based at JA the Resort in Jebel Ali, Chloe Blue is an official partner of Azraq, the marine conservation non-profit organisation.
“I want to allow people to see for themselves what human behaviour is doing to the ocean,” continues Griffin.
“There's lots of talk about climate change and pollution, but it's hard to grasp how severe the situation is until you are in the water, and you see coral that's bleached white and covered in plastic bags. Beach cleanups are great, but they're only scratching the surface of the problem. We want to change people's habits and encourage them to make more eco-conscious choices.”
A sanctuary for marine life
A life-long diver who has lived and dived in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, Griffin gained her junior PADI Open Water license at just 10 years old.
She says,“The Arabian Gulf contains an amazing array of diverse marine life. I see so many types of fish and lots of turtles. I've even spotted seahorses on the seagrass meadows near Dubai and black tipped reef sharks up at Dibba Rock.”
Having already been involved with one local coral conservation project, Griffin next wants to explore seagrass conservation. To mark COP28, she is planning to do a 'paddle out' from Jebel Ali with 400 to 500 people on paddle boards.
“Eventually, I would love to turn Chloe Blue into an eco-tourism hub. There are so many environmental groups and outdoor activities that you can do in the UAE. People think of Dubai as just a concrete jungle, but it's so much more than that."
UAE's stunningly green pavilion to wow visitors at Expo 2023 Doha
Dubai: Meet banker who gave up 7-figure salary to take up farming
UAE remote work visa: Abu Dhabi, Dubai among top destinations for 'digital nomads'
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.