The lush marine habitat by Aqaba Beach in Jordan is among the richest in the world, attracting thousands of visitors per year. But the popularity of the beach is also its downfall: In just 20 minutes, divers recovered more than 150 kilos of garbage from the waters of the reef, including plastic cups, cans, and toxic substances.
The Royal Marine Conservation Society (JREDS) is spearheading an effort to clean up the beach, increasing the number of annual cleanup dives from eight to 18. Executive Director Fadi Sharaiha told The Jordan Times, “We continue to get complaints from tourists and divers about the litter and the damage it is causing to the marine habitat.”
Throughout the world, at least thirty percent of coral reef habitats have been devastated due to pollution. And if the coral reef disappears, marine wildlife is sure to follow.
Corals, and particularly soft corals, are extremely vulnerable to pollution. The Red Sea waters of Aqaba Beach are home to at least 127 species of hard coral and 300 species of soft coral–a huge number which has consequently attracted many divers to marvel at the incredible beauty of this habitat.
But visitors also contribute vast amounts of litter to the beach, which inevitably finds its way into the ocean. Cans, cigarette butts, and plastic bags are among the offenders that are swept into the water and ultimately pose a threat to the marine habitat. And Sharaiha notes that the number of visitors to Aqaba Beach is increasing every year, which makes a swift intervention all the more crucial.
We hope the day will come when people think twice before they throw a piece of trash on the beach, or are fined when they do. Until then, we cannot afford to just sail through with business as usual, otherwise we cannot sustain the marine habitat.
:: Jordan Times
Green Prophet has covered the topic of marine pollution in depth. See some of our previous articles: