Ocean Trash Recovery: A Scuba Diver's Guide

Ocean Trash Recovery: A Scuba Diver's Guide

As scuba divers explore the majestic world under the sea, they are often dismayed to find it littered with debris — from plastics to discarded fishing gear. Rather than just being passive observers, many divers take this as a call to arms and devote their dives to recovering trash from the ocean. This guide provides important information about ocean trash recovery, outlining the challenges involved, the gear you need and the safety measures to follow.


The Problem: Ocean Trash

Each year, millions of tons of trash end up in our oceans, causing grave harm to marine life and ecosystems. Roughly 80% of this debris comes from land-based sources such as littering, illegal waste disposal and stormwater runoff. The other 20% comes from sea-based activities such as shipping, fishing, and offshore oil and gas platforms.

The Solution: Scuba Divers

Scuba divers are uniquely positioned to help combat this problem. Their ability to reach depths inaccessible to machines or unassisted humans allows them to remove debris that would otherwise remain undisturbed. Furthermore, their love and respect for the ocean make them passionate advocates for its preservation.

Ocean Trash Recovery Gear

Before initiating a clean-up dive, you need the right equipment. This includes:

Scuba Gear

High-quality, well-maintained scuba gear is crucial for any kind of diving activity, including trash recovery. Beyond the standard setup (mask, fins, BCD, regulator and cylinder), a few additional items can prove to be extremely helpful during a clean-up dive:

Marine Debris Data Card

Keeping track of what trash you collect is an important part of ocean clean-up dives. The data help gauge the scale of the problem and can guide future clean-up efforts. Some dive organizations provide divers with marine debris data cards — waterproof cards with checkboxes to record different types of trash collected.

Safety Measures

Risks can arise from handling heavy, sharp or hazardous materials underwater. Here are some safety measures to follow:

  1. Never Dive Alone: Always have a buddy with you in case something goes wrong.
  2. Stick to Your Training and Comfort Level: Don't attempt to remove an object if it's too heavy or if it's in a dangerous location — such as entangled in coral or wedged under a rock.
  3. Be Aware of Marine Animals: Be mindful not to disturb or damage sea life while removing debris.

Ocean Trash Recovery Organizations

As a scuba diver, you can join various organizations that are dedicated to protecting the ocean and its inhabitants through trash recovery efforts. A couple of these include:

Project AWARE Foundation: This global nonprofit organization works with divers around the world to collect data on marine trash and remove debris from our oceans.

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup: This organization coordinates the world’s largest volunteer effort for our ocean and waterways.


Recovering trash from the ocean is an important and fulfilling service that scuba divers can perform. It can make a significant difference to the health and beauty of our oceans, aiding in their preservation for future generations.

Remember, safety first. Always use proper gear, follow diving procedures, report data properly, respect marine life, and join hands with recognized organizations to maximize the impact of your clean-up efforts.

Join the mission of ocean trash recovery today. Breathe underwater for a cause!

  1. Marine pollution facts and figures
  2. Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment
  3. Project AWARE
  4. International Coastal Cleanup