I lay horizontal, floating like an object in space, weightless, observing incredible things that are passing me by. On the outset, it would seem that I am orbiting a far distant planet, to feel this lack of gravity, a sense of insignificance, yet I am a stone’s throw away from one of the busiest urban areas on the coast, Brighton. In fact, I am scuba diving, my first in the UK for that matter and what a spectacle it is. There is such an abundance of live cameras on springwatch and many other wildlife programmes for that matter showing bird nests, golden eagles, owls and many others, but the sea is so often forgotten. It is essentially a lost world, only viewed upon by the many anglers ripping out magnificent beasts or the divers that attempt to enter their gloomy domain. There are thousands of day trippers from London on the beach (I could see them), yet they have no idea about the amazing things beneath the waves.
Is there much down there?
You may be asking why this is important. Put simply, there is such beauty and such diversity of life in our oceans that it is a shame to nature, a disservice in fact, that it isn’t seen more frequently. My first dive revealed such amazing creatures that were an arm’s length away as I drifted past them in the tide. There were large plaice, gurneys, even a huge Thornback ray, along with soft sponges, crabs, lobsters and soft corals, termed dead man’s fingers. Even with varied visibility due to the plankton blooms the variety of life is staggering. The area is full of reefs, which are associated with limestone rock existing on the seabed. This creates amazing habitats for the rays, crabs, fish and soft corals. I was unsure as to whether the term ‘reef’ is correct, but after seeing it for myself, we definitely have reefs in British waters.
The problem of plastic
The thousands that flock to Brighton and other seaside towns are a blessing and also a nuisance. With no knowledge or care about what’s beneath the waves, tonnes of rubbish are discarded floating off into the murky depths that I myself floated through. On the trip out there were several cans and bags, which I was just trying to collect, but there is undoubtedly much more out of sight.
With so many recent articles suggesting that young fish prefer small plastics in parallel to teenagers preferring fast food, it is a worrying situation. The amazing plaice, rays or crabs that I saw with my own eyes, ultimately eat the small fish and thus consume the deadly, indigestible plastic. It seems so trivial that throwing a plastic cup or a fork in the sea will kill a shark or ray, but in reality it really could. The end of the food chain then ends with humans who fish the plaice and rays, thus eating this poisonous plastic material. We should not forget that plastics are made from crude oil. Is this something that should be found in the sea that you may bathe in or eat fish from?
In a time when various organisations are trying to inspire children as well as adults to get involved with nature and do something great, it’s a shame that the ocean is somewhat forgotten. Beach cleaning is taking place this weekend all over the country, which thankfully is removing tonnes of rubbish from our oceans. However, these don’t always teach or give insight as to what is in the sea, which is such a shame as there is such diversity out there. So either get out there, snorkelling, do beach combing, or diving if you can, just don’t forget there is a whole other world under the waves and you can get a glimpse of that world if you wish.
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