Scuba divers gather in Lebanon to give seabed a deep clean

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Lebanon is set to witness a unique form of environmentalism on Saturday, with scuba-divers from across the country gathering to clean up the coastal seabed, reported Daily Star Lebanon on Wednesday.

Bubbles Club for Divers has hosted the clean-up event for the past two years. They set aside a day to collect rubbish that has accumulated on the seabed, which pollutes waters and presents a real danger to marine wildlife.

“We have a very dirty seabed,” says George Assaf, founder and owner of Bubbles, in an interview with the Daily Star.

“There is debris all over the world but in our country, unfortunately, because of the lack of culture, we have garbage dumped there. So we’re trying to do the best we can, not only to clean but to educate people not to throw [rubbish] in the sea, and to respect our nature.”

Bubbles Club for Divers is currently in the process of registering a new NGO with the government, aimed at raising environmental awareness, particularly on issues relating to the pollution of the sea, reported the Daily Star.

For Saturday’s event, Assaf says around 25 divers are set to take place in the clean-up operation off the coast of a seaside resort.

In previous years, he says, the team filled around 30 large garbage bags with rubbish gathered from the ocean floor.

Assaf elaborates on the type of rubbish his team usually find underwater.

“Mostly we find cans from coke or beer. We find a lot of tires. I don’t know how they get there. Each year we take out like 10 tires. There is a lot of fishing line as well. ... All this stuff – especially plastic – takes a long time to degrade in nature,” he explained.

“It seems that this rubbish has been accumulating throughout the years,” he explains, “because the spots we cleaned are relatively clean this year.”

Assaf hopes to raise awareness, not just clean up the seabed in the short term.

“This initiative has been criticized by many skeptical people so far,” he says, “claiming that we are tackling the consequence and not the cause. I would like to point out that since we have launched this initiative more and more divers and non-divers are taking part in it, [and] more people are becoming aware that littering the sea and the land is wrong.

“Unfortunately, some still think that it’s natural and normal to throw garbage in the sea. We hope that a day comes when we won’t have to conduct such an event anymore.”

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