Hi there, my name is Shaun Marshall. I am a 24 year-old South African, currently living in Bangkok, Thailand. I came to Thailand to teach English which I am finding both challenging and rewarding.
However, after doing some diving off the islands here, I became aware of the huge problem of ocean pollution. Oil spills always get media attention, and rightly so, but very few people are aware of the amount of “general” pollution there is in the ocean. The high levels of glass and plastic material as well as fishing lines and nets have vast negative consequences for both ocean plants and animals. Debris as small as straws can cause major pain and discomfort for marine life, while larger items such as fishing nets and plastic bags can also cause a huge amount of damage to the ocean reefs. It is not only the visible pollution that causes harm, for instance suntan lotion has a major negative effect on the corals in our ocean. Further, not only does this debris lie strewn all over the ocean bed and coral reefs, impacting the growth and development of corals and fish, but small pieces float about impairing visibility. So far, my experience is only of Thailand but I am guessing that this problem occurs in all the oceans of the world.
In many situations it is often divers and those involved directly with the oceans who are left to clean up the pollution. Although these people do their best to educate others about the harmful effects of ocean pollution, there are just not enough of them at the moment. Luckily a great number of divers and ocean-goers have joined forces and created organisations to combat and spread the message about ocean pollution. One such organisation is Project AWARE, which after undergoing a revamp, is now primarily focusing on two main issues, one being the protection and conservation of sharks and the other, the battle against ocean debris. The Project AWARE team have a campaign called Dive Against Debris; this campaign is not only aimed at spreading the word about the negative consequences of marine debris, but also asks divers to record and collect the debris that they come across. This information and data is then used as evidence in the fight against ocean pollution. This campaign is something I support very strongly and wish to partake in and contribute towards. For more information regarding Project AWARE and their Dive Against Debris campaign please take a look at their website on www.projectaware.org.or the campaign on http://www.projectaware.org/project/dive-against-d...
After much thought and research, I have come to the conclusion that in order to be able to best achieve my goals and aims of being an asset to the Dive Against Debris campaign, combating ocean pollution and educating others, I need to further my dive experience and conservation knowledge.
This brings me to the reason for this fundraising page. In order for me to be able to contribute at a significant level I would need become a dive instructor, as this would mean I will not only be diving (and collecting debris) almost everyday, I will also be in a position to use my teaching and education experience to teach people first-hand about the extent and dangers of marine debris. I would be able to encourage present and future divers to carry a debris bag on every dive, I would be able to assist organisations such as Project AWARE with data collection and would also be able to assist with the construction of artificial reefs.
I am currently working towards my Divemasters qualification, however (as divers know) this is an expensive qualification and although I am saving every penny I earn, it is difficult on a teachers’ salary to save enough money to pay for the Divemaster Course. Therefore I am creating this fundraising campaign and appealing to “ocean-conscious” people to contribute towards my fund so that I may fulfill my dream of spreading “ocean-awareness, cleanliness and conservation” ONE DIVE AT A TIME. Since being in Thailand I have created a blog on which I have recorded all my diving experiences; my blog can be found by following this link www.unguided.co.za I shall be continuing this blog as a means to spread the Dive Against Debris campaign and will also be using it to keep my followers up to date with my diving activities and the results of this fundraising campaign.
The money raised in this campaign will not solely be going towards paying for my Divemaster course here in Thailand on an island called Koh Tao, as I have pledged to donate 20% of the total money received to Project AWARE for their Dive Against Debris Campaign as my first contribution to the fight against pollution. This means that the money raised will be used as follows:
- 20% of the total amount raised will be donated to Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris campaign.
- The dive master course costs 130000 Baht.
- Of any funds received over the 160000 Baht target, 50% will be donated to Project AWARE.
I will be completing my Divemasters at Big Blue Diving, which is the best dive school on Koh Tao and consists of a recreational diving department, a tech diving department as well as a conservation department, so I believe I am in the right place. Big Blue partners up with a number of conservation agencies on Koh Tao and organises both beach and reef clean ups as well as the construction of artificial reefs. For further information about Big Blue Diving and their contribution to marine conservation please take a look at their website www.bigbluediving.com
Finally I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to read my campaign, and I hope that even if it has not convinced you to donate it has at least made you aware of the issue of marine debris. THANK YOU.
PS: The currency used here is Baht; if you need to check the exchange rate with your local currency, please click here.