x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hundreds to help with coastal clean-up

Volunteers will tackle a beach cleanup next week.

ABU DHABI // More than 300 people are expected to help clean up the capital's beaches next week.

The Abu Dhabi Islands Clean Up Campaign will go along the coastline, into the Gulf and onto Lulu Island and other offshore areas.

The event has been organised by the Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction Limited, the Emirates Diving Association, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and other government organisations.

Volunteers are invited to arrive at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, opposite Marina Mall, at 8am on September 17.

The team will include about 60 divers, said Kathleen Russell, manager and course director at the capital's Al Mahara Diving Centre, which is also a partner in the campaign.

"We are inviting everyone to come and dive against marine debris," said Mrs Russell, who has been volunteering for and organising clean-ups since 1996.

"As divers, we can point to things that are unseen to the eyes of the public," she said.

She added that besides polluting beaches, marine debris can damage coral, fish and turtles.

Plastic bottles and bags and discarded fishing nets and cages are among the main problems.

Plastic can cause large-scale damage. It can be ingested by turtles and sea birds, harming and even killing them. Discarded fishing nets can drown marine mammals such as dolphins and dugongs, one of the UAE's flagship marine species.

Volunteers occasionally come across more unusual items, said Mrs Russell, who remembered once taking a shopping cart out of Abu Dhabi's waters.

Another unusual find was discovered this year during a clean-up of Lulu Island beach, when student volunteers retrieved more than 50 bags of spices.

"We found a lot of them washed up on the island and buried in the sand," she said.

"It was strange because they were all intact. There was cardamom and other Asian spices."

All of the waste is screened for recycling possibilities.

It is also weighed, counted and submitted to a database on marine debris maintained by international organisations.