For many years I had the chance to learn to dive. I never did. Maybe I was afraid, but my fear to lose it all pulled me this year immediately in the water.
Finally, after years of staying at the shore, I learned how to dive, and I cannot get enough of it. But the same joy causes me sadness, because all this beauty is about to disappear. The same way I could not imagine the wealth of nature which is covered by many layers of water, I cannot imagine how one day it all will be gone. How one day I will go down and find another planet again, but this time not the marvels of aquatic life, but the disasters of human life.
The Beauty and the Beast
Floating between the corals – no I’m not touching it, I’m even all the time getting the remark to stay closer (to the dive master, not to the coral, but in my fear to touch the coral I get too far of him as well), I feel like flying into an entire new world. It is amazing how the underwater ecosystem looks balanced and peaceful. The variety of colours in coral and fish is astonishing and goes far beyond my wildest imagination of underwater life.
But at the same time, it is frightening, and while willing to smile (which you should not do considering your diving mask that soaks in water if you do so), I feel like crying as well (which will fill up my mask with salt water as well eventually). Same same, but different.
I have to think of the words of the IPCC congress, and of the keynotes on ocean life during the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. It is all about to disappear. And I mean, ‘all’ of it.
There is only a slightly chance to rescue 5% of the corals in the entire world, if we would take fast and profound action and manage to limit the global warming to 1.5 degrees, rather than the 3 degrees we are going to nowadays.
The paradise-alike world is doomed to become no more than a paradise, a heaven we can dream of, but we cannot reach anymore. It will be reduced to our memories and imagination; and eventually it will slowly fade away until the whisper of an ocean breeze.
There will be nothing more to talk about, but the nodding heads of those who once saw what once had been. Which reminds me of the old men by the lake of Arenal in Costa Rica, swinging their chair at the shore of the lake that inundated their village. They knew, only they knew.
Eventually they will disappear as well and take the stories of the underwater paradise with them. It will become a myth, a legend to brag about at bun fires, or during lone sailing trips.
So, I continue floating and hold my breath, watch with big eyes and try to absorb all of it. Holding my breath makes me rise to the water surface, and the dive master has to call me down again. I hurry up, because I don’t want to lose a second of what is left.
Battlefield at the Bottom
At some spots I can see the bleaching of the coral already started. It looks like an underwater battlefield, however there are no worriers, no soldiers, no army to protect. It is a fight with unequal weapons, which should not have been fought.
The fish, nor the coral are going to stand up and fight, like the whales who washed ashore a couple of days ago in Germany, stomachs filled with plastic and trash. Or like the turtles who don’t land and breed anymore at turtle island (what Koh Tao means in Thai), because of their beaches are taken by bungalows, trash and people. And Koh Tao is not the only island facing these issues, fighting this battle.
So, we have to! Human beings have to stand up and fight for the rights of the aquatic world. And for those who don’t give a **** about this world, take into account that our world is covered for about 71% with water. And extremely important: the ocean produces about 70% of the Earth’s Oxygen. And here you have to very aware that climate change is seriously damaging this long of the earth, since climate changes destroyed already a huge part of the phytoplankton which produces this oxygen. Additionally, the ocean is a temperature regulator, or balancer of the earth, absorbing a huge amount of heath of earth in order to keep the temperature liveable. But we are losing our strongest weapon against climate change, to… climate change.
It does matter. For them, for you, for all of us.
Luckily in Koh Tao, most of the diving schools are working on this topic, as written in the previous post. There are coral restoring projects, there are ocean clean up actions, besides the beach clean-up actions, there are specialisation courses regarding underwater sustainability, and so on.
Be a guest or stay out
Besides the diving schools, the local companies and shops doing their best, it is up to all the visitors of Koh Tao, and of any other place connected to the water.
So, here is the plan. Stop throwing waste in any place but in a trash can! About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually; moreover, plastic thrown on land find eventually its way to the ocean, via rivers and flooding, by heavy rain and inundations. Water find its way and it takes everything what it finds on that way with it. And since prevention is always better than curing: avoid the use of single used plastic as much as possible.
Regardless the plastic, if you go diving, snorkelling or swimming, respect the coral, respect the underwater world, it is their world, not yours, enter like if you would enter another country, adapt to its culture, to its customs and be respectful, act as a guest, leave as a guest, or stay out.