Mermaids Dive Center trash assassins set a new record

Friday, 07 October 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 40 By  Sheena Walls

Clean up day has 351 participants

Mermaids Dive Center, a PADI 5 star Career Development Center based in Jomtien, Pattaya, held its annual International Clean up day on September 17 on the south beach and reef of Koh Sak Island. Koh Sak is located 40 minutes from Pattaya Beach and a local attraction for day visitors.

Always a popular day on any diver’s calendar, the Mermaids Dive Center International Cleanup day began in 2008 with 176 participants. Now in its 4th year running, the number of participants has increased to a record breaking 351 people ranging from non swimmers and snorkelers to divers at all levels.

Some happy winners in the lucky draw back at the Captain’s Table.Some happy winners in the lucky draw back at the Captain’s Table.

Taking part in the clean up were local residents from Pattaya and Bangkok, as well as students, teachers and parents from NIST and RIS International schools in Bangkok, Regents School in Pattaya and Garden School in Rayong. Mermaid’s staff and students handled the day’s logistics and joined in with diving and cleaning.

The day started at 6.30 a.m. at the main operations center located in Jomtien. All participants registered and received a special commemorative T shirt to mark the day’s occasion. Breakfast was provided at Papa David’s restaurant and the transfer to the 9 awaiting boats at Bali Hai Pier began.

Fire twirlers are a big hit at the party.Fire twirlers are a big hit at the party.

Once on board each boat, the Mermaids boat master gave participants a detailed overview of the facilities on board and the schedule for the day. Led by the Mermaids safety speedboat, all 9 boats soon set off for Koh Sak. There was a lot of excitement and cheering on board each boat.

On arrival at Koh Sak, everyone listened to their dive and snorkel briefs from the Mermaids team leaders on board. For the next hour, divers and snorkelers brought trash back to their boats to be counted and logged for statistics. Amongst the trash collected were old shoes and a lot of broken glass.

This year’s event drew 351 participants.This year’s event drew 351 participants.

Lunch was served and everyone settled down to relax and talk about their findings. Those that had been on the clean up in previous years remarked that the trash seemed to be a little less this year. Those that were attending for the first year were dismayed at the amount of rubbish coming out of the water. For those with a little more energy, swimming and stand up paddle boarding with Amara Watersports kept everyone entertained.

Catching some shuteye after a long day assassinating trash from the sea.Catching some shuteye after a long day assassinating trash from the sea.

After lunch, everyone swam or took the quicker trip in the safety speedboat over to the beach to start the cleanup. After cleaning the beach to its former pristine condition, everyone gathered together for the group photo. The safety speed boat then took the non swimmers back to their boats and the divers returned to kit up for their second dive of the day. Most snorkelers decided to stay on the beach and hunt for more trash.

After their briefings the divers returned to the water to see what else they could collect. The safety speedboat with a lot of helpers returned back to the beach to collect all the trash and transferred this onto the 9 boats. Once everyone was back on board and a final check was done, the 9 boats with their trash collection started their return journey back to Bali Hai Pier.

This year the trash was estimated 3.5 tons. Amongst the items collected were old shoes, car parts, rope, fishing line, food packaging, polystyrene, cans, plastic bottles, glass and clothing. The biggest find of the day was a TV. This was slightly more than the 3 tons collected in 2010.

Snorkelers set off for the shallows.Snorkelers set off for the shallows.

Upon arrival back at Bali Hai, everyone made their way to the evening event at the Captains Corner Restaurant in the Residence Gardens Hotel. After a fabulous buffet dinner everyone settled down to hear the prize draw for the Mermaids Dive Warrior Junior Master Scuba Diver Internship. The Mermaids Dive Warrior is open for all 10 to 15 year old divers to join us to learn more about the underwater world. Congratulations to Hina Yamada, from NIST International School in Bangkok who won the prize valued at 120,000 baht.

In you go.  Don’t forget who your buddy is.In you go.  Don’t forget who your buddy is.

The main raffle prizes were drawn with prizes ranging from diving equipment to luxury hotel stays in Samui. These prizes were generously donated by Mermaids Dive Center, Shasa Resort, Pinnacle Hotels, Dive Supply, Aquamaster, Easy Watersports, Go Pro Cameras, Blue Lagoon Kiteboard Center, Siac Consulting, Arc Publishing, Woodlands Resort, The Seafood Bar, The Oyster Bar, EasyKart, Kipling, Almeta, Nadimos, P2, Citidines Sukhumvit 23, Amara Watersports, One Stop Dive, Pullman Aisawan Hotel, Aree Alley, Hard Rock Hotel, Holiday Inn, Bugslock, CT Life Spa, Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, Bangkok Florist, Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, Underwater World Pattaya, Nong Nooch Gardens, Captains Corner Restaurant, Jomtien Boathouse Hotel, Linason Travel, Thai Rent a Car, Grappa Restaurant, Happy Home Cooking School and Siam Diving Enterprises.

Collecting trash on the shoreline is just as big a task as collecting from underwater.Collecting trash on the shoreline is just as big a task as collecting from underwater.

Main sponsors for the day were Bugslock and Thai Rent a Car. Singha Corporation, Wang Thong Group, Coca Cola and Italasia provided beverages on the day and evening.

After prize giving was completed, the evening’s entertainment began with a fire show and everyone enjoyed some great music and celebrated their achievements from the day. Bookings for next year’s cleanup were already being made.

Looking pretty even while collecting garbage; remarkable.Looking pretty even while collecting garbage; remarkable.

Sheena Walls, general manager of Mermaids Dive Center said, “It was another great year, with old and new friends joining us. Thank you to all the staff and students of Mermaids and our participants, it just wouldn’t be possible without you.”

Peter Waagensen, owner and director of Mermaids Dive Center said, “It is good to see that our event that we have done 6 years now, has grown and gotten the support that we have, from sponsors as well as so many members of the community to participate, especially the younger generations, as they understand the importance of taking care of our environment.

“The Mermaids team has done an outstanding job again this year, with all credit to all of Mermaids as well as the many participants who joined the event.”

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