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The Last Straw–just say no to plastic straws

Putu bamboo straws

An industrious Balinese high schooler started a business selling bamboo straws

I ran across a couple of articles today about straws that I thought I would share. First, from National Geographic: “Straw Wars: The Fight to Rid the Oceans of Discarded Plastic.”

The second one, from our own backyard here in Bali,  made me smile and gives me hope: “Putu’s Bamboo Straws.”

Do your part–say ‘No Thanks’ to plastic straws.

Sunscreen Chemicals Dangerous to Corals

Sunscreen, coral bleaching

On the left is normal coral; on the right is bleached coral after exposure to sunscreen

 

I see divers and snorkelers slathering on sunscreen every time I go out on the Sea Rovers’ boats. Since there are only a limited number of dive sites at Menjangan and here in Pemuteran, it really worries me about the impact these chemicals may be having on the reefs. Here are some excerpts from an article from National Geographic and PADI. Click on the links if you want to read them in full.

The sunscreen that you dutifully slather on before a swim on the beach may be protecting your body—but a new study finds that the chemicals are also killing coral reefs worldwide.

Four commonly found sunscreen ingredients can awaken dormant viruses in the symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae that live inside reef-building coral species. Even low levels of sunscreen, at or below the typical amount used by swimmers, could activate the algae viruses and completely bleach coral in just four days, the results showed.

The researchers estimate that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide, and that up to 10 percent of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching.

So what’s a diver (or snorkeler) to do?

When it comes to sunscreen, any natural product (organic, biodegradeable etc) is better for the environment then the conventional one. Look for a brand that uses physical sunblocks such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead of chemical ones.

Read the label. A product advertising itself as “reef safe” doesn’t necessarily mean what it says. Always look at ingredient lists to make sure reef-damaging substances (such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, all of which have been shown to cause coral bleaching even at low levels) aren’t included.

Apply sunscreen at least 10-15 minutes before going in the water so that the lotion absorbs into your skin.

 

Now that you’re ready to make the switch to coral reef safe sunscreen (and human-safe), consider the 10 options below, all of which have a “1” rating from the EWG, and positive reviews from online consumers. The products below are not officially endorsed by PADI or Project AWARE; however, if you are reading this article in the United States and make a purchase by clicking a link below, a portion of your purchase will go to Project AWARE via the Amazon Associates program.

  1. Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin/Children, SPF 30+
  2. Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
  3. UV Natural Sport Lip Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  4. Badger Broad Spectrum Sport Facestick, SPF 35
  5. ECO logical All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  6. Elemental Herbs Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  7. Green Screen D Organic Sunscreen, Original, SPF 35
  8. BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30
  9. Raw Elements USA Eco FormulaSPF 30
  10. All Terrain KidSport SPF30*

I wear a thin wetsuit or dive skin whenever I’m on the boat  (I do have a noticeable tan line that starts at my wrists; I could wear my gloves if it becomes too unsightly). I try to sit in the shade, and if I can’t, I use a towel over my head to shield my face from the sun. A broad-brimmed hat would also protect your face.

Some of the world’s problems seem so big that there’s nothing we can do; consider making this small change to do your bit to protect our precious coral reefs.

 

 

Kat’s Ocean–the retired resident photo wench’s new website

In honor of World Oceans Day, I’d like to share my new website, Kat’s Ocean, with all of the Sea Rovers’ Brethren.

Kat's Ocean Logo

Thanks to my friend Lin Fronda back in the Cayman Islands who designed this logo 6 years ago–finally get to use it

The site is still a baby with lots of growing to do. I’ve never built a website before, so I’m still climbing a steep learning curve. You can learn more about me, my life in Bali and my diving adventures in the blog. I plan to expand the UW Photography Tips & Tricks section to perhaps offer courses and answer questions from registered users. There aren’t many pictures in the galleries yet; I have over 23,000 images going back to 2002 to sort through, so I hope you will keep coming back to check out what’s new (and what’s old).

I ain’t afraid of no shark

Reef shark, Roatan, Honduras

Unusually close because it was a baited shark dive in Honduras

If you’re like me, one of the first things most people ask when they find out you scuba dive is, “aren’t you afraid of sharks?” I always answer “Oh no, I so rarely see a shark; it’s always exciting, and I swim towards them to get a photo.” They eye me skeptically, so I follow up by saying that I’m more afraid of the stray dogs that live on my street than I am of sharks. So, here are some interesting statistics to share with these dubious folks.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), between 1958 and 2016 there were a total of 548 fatalities from sharks. That is an average of 9.45 fatalities per year. Of those fatalities, only 8% were snorkelers or divers (more than half were surfers).

So, what kills more people each year than sharks? Here’s a list that may surprise you:

ANIMALS & INSECTS

Mosquitoes – 800,000 worldwide

Hippos – 2900 worldwide

Bees – 100 in the US

Ants – 50 in the US

Jellyfish – 40 worldwide

Dogs – 30 in the US / 25,000 worldwide

Cows – 20 in the US

Horses  – 20 in the US

OTHER THINGS/ACTIVITIES

Texting (while driving) – 2900 in the US

Falling out of bed – 450 in the US

Falling coconuts – 150  worldwide

Popping champagne corks – 24 worldwide

Taking selfies  – 18 worldwide

Falling icicles – 15 in the US

 

So, now that you’re armed with some statistics, go out and convince all your friends to discover scuba diving!

Menjangan Island Underwater Clean Up

Sunday at West Bali National Park a team of 60 divers (Sea Rovers included) assembled to collect the plastic waste that had got stuck on the reefs around Menjangan island.

Apparently a whopping 128 kilograms of plastic waste was removed from around Menjangan Island in West Bali National Park over this weekend.

The divers came from West Bali National Park, East Java’s Alas Purwo National Park, the Perancak Marine Observation and Research Agency, plus divecentres around the Northwest Bali area, particularly Pemuteran bay.

Most the waste was food and drink plastic packaging. The rubbish was collected and transported off Menjangan Island by boat at the end of the day.

“Within an average week, the total amount of garbage transported out of Menjangan reaches approximately 300 kilograms which doesn’t even include the trash removed from the reef,” Tribun Bali.

“The total garbage collected from February to May 2017 reached three tons for Menjangan Island. The entire West Bali National Park area reached five tons,” West Bali National Park Manager Wiryawan told Tribun on Sunday.

Sad that much of the rubbish that tourist complain about also comes from the tourists doing the complaining. Sometimes directly and more often indirectly. Dispose of your waste wisely and use companies that do the same.

Here at Sea Rovers all our plastic bottles are collected for recycling, our lunchboxes are Tupperware style reusable and softdrinks come in glass bottles, which we own and just buy the refills for. A common practice here in Indonesia. As Pirates we wipe the with our t-shirts and drink from the bottles. No plastic straws for us!

So next time you’re at Menjangan Island and you see trash, do your bit. Pick it up and bring it back for proper disposal. Be part of the solution instead of mourning about it online.

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