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About 70% of the Earth is covered in water and the oceans hold about 96.5 percentages of all earths’ waters. These reservoirs of unusual geographic features and artefacts form the largest museum exceeding the worlds’ museums combined. But the malicious advances of man have jeopardized the oceans and its marine life. Oceans are suffering owing to the sweeping menace of plastics at the hands of mankind. At a time when plastic pollution finds its way into the oceans and its beaches, ten prominent women donned the scuba diving gears and decided to save the day.

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This women’s Day, Bond Safari Kovalam in association with Red FM 93.5 organised the first women’s only ocean clean-up in India , a first of it’s kind campaign to free the oceans from the clutches of plastic. This is the second initiative from Bond Safari Kovalam who had conducted ‘Ocean Love’, their campaign that intends to cleanse and extract plastic wastes from the ocean and thereby create awareness among the public regarding the consequences of marine pollution. The ‘No Plastic Challenge’ initiative by Red FM 93.5 that took place at Kovalam in Trivandrum went with the tag line ‘From the land to the sea’. Representatives from different arenas of profession were selected to lead the challenge and they proudly displayed their affection for the sea by holding placards that read “There is love and life in the water”, “There’s no planet B”. Other than the Programme Head Parvathy and the RJs of Red FM 93.5, such as Lavanya , Chinchu and Anjali, the cause was fronted by K Vasuki IAS, Executive Director of the Kerala Suchitwa Mission, Dr. Divya Nair who is a Doctor by profession and also an actor, Neema an IT professional from Techno Park and Sobha Viswanath the social entrepenuer.

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“Big shopping underwater” shouted RJ Lavanya pointing at her ‘recycle bag’ that was weighed down by plastic collected from the sea floor, as she emerges out of the water after what seems like a 15 minute dive but actually lasted for 35 minutes.. “I wish I had stayed underwater because scuba diving is magic. You are enchanted by the beauty of everything underneath but to be awakened into reality by the floating pieces of plastic”, she adds. “The sea belongs to the fishes and other marine life, then why are we humans destroying their natural habitat with our unwanted contributions?” questioned Shobha after what is her second scuba diving experience and she deemed it as an unexplainable experience which can only be enjoyed by you alone! All you have to do is take a deep breath and plunge in. “I’m elated to have been given the opportunity to acknowledge the splendour of nature under the blue, however, in the back of my mind i kept asking, why we did this? It barely takes less than a minute to throw the waste into a dustbin. So let the marine creatures Live” she remarked.

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Scuba diving makes use of signals to ensure proper communication between the diver and the instructors. It is not necessary to have the knowledge of swimming for scuba diving and a diver will always be accompanied by the instructor underwater who will ensure a safe and easy dive. Through this mode of sport, Bond Safari Kovalam had managed to conduct a series of clean up in the area in association with other local organisations to create a problem free and plastic free surrounding. In fact their everyday dive commences with the activity of cleaning and collecting plastic. “We humans use over 300 million tons of new plastic every year. It is estimated that 10 to 12 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every year and plastic never goes way. It’s a global issue that impacts our sea, our health and our well-being” says Jackson Peter, Managing partner, Bond Safari. “Over 600 species of marine life are known to suffer directly from plastic pollution. Thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it” adds Jackson.

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About half the world’s population dwells in the coastal belts making it the cradle of culture, heritage and tourism. “Kerala has a very big coastal zone so coastal protection should be everyone’s priority” opines K Vasuki IAS who considers her diving experience to be a life changing one in ways that it mesmerised her with its sights and at the same time disturbed her with its pathetic plight. Showing the tiny piece of disintegrated piece of plastic from her bag in front of the camera, she adds that “Plastic pollution doesn’t just hurt marine species. It’s also harmful to people. The plastic debris release toxic chemicals and when fish and other marine creatures ingest these particles, the toxicity and plastics find a way into our food chain and ultimately on our dinner plates!”. 

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Rainforests are responsible for roughly one third of the Earth’s oxygen but most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants and comes from the oceans! Oceans not only produce oxygen but also absorb carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere, yet we give little credit to oceans for that. We are now suffocating the one that graces us with the breath of life. RJs Anjali and RJ Chinchu appeared with more of the ‘suffocation’ after their hunt. “By 2050, the amount of plastic will surpass the number of fishes in the oceans” says RJ Anjali. “It is important not to throw away plastic but dispose it off properly” suggests RJ Chinchu. Programming Head of Red FM, Parvathy also had plastic toys, straws, ATM card, big plastic bags to add to the collection of heaping plastic.

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“Being a Doctor, I do understand that plastic is hazardous” comments Dr. Divya who is disheartned by the irresponsibility and nonchalance of humans, and ashamed at the fact that a group of foreigners had helped to recover and discharge the litter that had been dispersed by us, during her last visit to Kovalam. “Bringing down the use of plastics might be the possible way out of this turmoil” states Subin, Dive Instructor. Subin and his team of PADI certified divers routinely clean the Grove Beach and its vicinity, nonetheless the other beaches and the other parts of the sea are still contaminated.

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“This is a novel way of campaigning and I’m glad that I could be a part of this” says Neema, professional from Techno Park. “Since we have inhabited this planet, then why not make it clean for us and our co inhibitants?” she adds. Since time immemorial man has been dependent on the ocean, but now the ocean is depending on us to salvage it. Though we live in a very modern epoch, our actions are still primitive. At a time when Trivandrum is being converted to a “plastic free zone”, Bond Safari has dedicated an entire year to oceans and its surroundings clean-up. With objectives to spread awareness and bring the attention of the public on the ill that we are causing to the marine life, they seek sustenance. “We need your support and we would appreciate if more people came in and helped us in our cleansing activities” says Nikhil, Dive Instructor.

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It was a Women’s Day with a unique cause. It was a Women’s Day with a difference. The adventurist women devoured a sense of achievement and satisfaction. 

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