A team of scuba divers who started efforts to clean up the marine environment around XiaoLiuqiu Island six years ago, celebrated their 200th expedition with an exhibition to draw attention to the problem of discarded waste in the ocean. Increasing numbers of green sea turtles returning to Xiaoliuqiu to breed, has made them feel their efforts have not been in vain.
Yesterday, April 19, the team launched an exhibition that includes photographs of their underwater endeavors, and displays of various objects that litter the underwater marine environment. The exhibition allows people from all walks of life to become aware of the problems marine animals face when they become entangled in material such as discarded fishing nets and fishing line. It also brings awareness of the beauty of the underwater environment.
In the 6 years the team has been operating they have removed with their bare hands over 32 tons of trash. Along with fishing nets and lines, they also find anchors, rope, and all kinds of refuse discarded from fishing boats.
The team leader, Mr Lee, explained that he and other scuba divers encountering dead animals such as turtles entangled in refuse had moved them to form the volunteer group. Each team member chose a marine animal species to adopt as their nickname and swore to be a protector of that species. Mr Lee chose Cheilinus undulatus -the humphead wrasse.
A spokesperson for the group explained that operations were divided into beach clean-ups and underwater cleanups. Members of the underwater cleanup team were licensed scuba divers or boat crew, and that each person was responsible for their own equipment and expenses. In recent years they have seen and improvement in the underwater environment around the island. The increasing number of sea turtles gave them the greatest feeling of accomplishment. Through the exhibition, and social networking on the Internet, they hope to increase appreciation of the marine environment, and consciousness about conservation and environmental protection.
Xiaoliuqiu Marine Volunteer Group on facebook: 小琉球海洋志工隊