A long journey starts with one step. Every adventure starts small. It is very important to have an initiative and keep working towards achieving the set goals. Only perseverance and determination can lead to some accomplishment.
Pollution is one of the major universal issues faced by humanity today. The problem can only be solved with gradual and persistence efforts. Plastic has long been polluting oceans endangering marine life. Saving the oceans is not an easy task. To have clean and a healthy occasion, every adventure or effort needs to be counted.
Qatar is a place where the awareness regarding pollution is growing and activities to clean up beaches and underwater surfaces are gaining momentum. Khaled Zaki is a PADI certified instructor for underwater diving and an underwater photographer. He has long been associated with beach cleanups in Qatar and now has started underwater cleanup dives encouraging other divers to make every dive a cleanup dive.
There is no doubt that plastic and microplastic pollution has been badly affecting the occasions. “It needs to have some positive action and that too now. Efforts have already been underway as many countries have started banning plastic or single-use plastic. We need to do away with use of plastic. It is good to see more and more volunteers getting involved in cleanup activities,” said Zaki, who has been taking part in cleanup dives while working with Project AWARE, a global organisation that takes action to create both local and global change for the ocean and the communities who depend on it.
Zaki, who has been a diver for 25 years, motivates divers to take part in underwater cleanup drives. “As a PADI instructor, I have started spreading the word about environment related issues among my friends, colleagues, and students. By only having a little mash bag in your Buoyancy Compensator Devices (BCDs), you can start collecting small plastic bags, mineral water bottle caps, plastic spoons, and couple of cigarette butts. The butts are a toxic plastic pollutant that stay there for ages. It can be eaten by the fish and finally can end up at our eating table.”
The environment activist has also been organising underwater cleanup dives in Qatar. “Usually, I announce on my social media pages about the cleanup divers and the areas where we plan to dive. Many divers get together and get into water for adventure as well as for environment. We collect debris and trash from the occasion bed. We usually dive in the Sealine Area where we have three dive sites.
“I believe in a future where the ocean no longer needs protection. We exist to connect the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation.”
In response to a question about how he seriously got attracted towards cleanup dives, Zaki said: “I have been diving every day for 25 years. I see underwater life and changes in it. I can see both negative and positive changes. When it comes to trash and plastic, it really needs our attention. It has happened a couple of times when I saw fish eating
microplastic during my dive. I saw birds eating plastic at the beach and they died. I have also seen marine species get stuck in plastic rings or in waste material. I have also witnessed turtle taking bites of plastic bags. That is why I have decided to light a candle rather than merely complaining about the darkness. I started it with myself making small efforts.”
Underlining the need to minimise the use of plastic, the underwater dive master said: “My family and I have started taking reusable bags to supermarkets and refuse using plastic bags. I campaign for clean beaches asking people to clean the area after having a barbecue party. I want authorities to make beach visitors strictly follow the cleanliness rules.”
Zaki has won a short video competition recently organised by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Qatar Photography Society. “The competition was held to support the cause of environment in Qatar. I made a short film on underwater life in Qatar. I was lucky to win the first prize.”