Wärtsilä’s Dive Against Debris 2022: Volunteer divers cleaned up garbage from the sea in Vaasa and Helsinki

Wärtsilä Corporation, News, 30 August 2022 at 13:30 UTC+2
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It seems to be no surprise that a lot of garbage and stuff that does not belong there, is lying in the bottom of the sea. Especially the shores along busy streets and parks can be very polluted. How to clean up the shore when it’s nearly impossible to see anything in the dark waters?

Luckily there are skilled divers to help in these kinds of situations. At the end of August, Wärtsilä organised its annual Dive Against Debris event, this time in two cities: Vaasa and Helsinki.

Dive Against Debris is an event where volunteer divers clean up the seafloor from all sorts of garbage. The events were held in celebration of the Baltic Sea Day (25 August), created and run by the John Nurminen Foundation. The objective of the day is to encourage people to enjoy the unique Baltic Sea that belongs to us all, and to take concrete actions that preserve the sea.

The events were held in collaboration with Finnish Divers’ Federation and PADI AWARE, a global initiative that works with scuba divers across the globe to protect underwater environments. The events were made possible by Wärtsilä volunteers and divers as well as various local partners. Our partners in Vaasa were Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association, Vaasan meripelastusyhdistys, City of Vaasa, Vaasan VPK, Vaasa City Library and the local diving club Bothnia Gulf Divers 82 ry. In Helsinki we partnered up with City of Helsinki, Kristiina Tikke Tuura, an environmental artist, and the local diving clubs such as H2O Ry, CNNd Ry and Nousu Ry.

From Vaasa and Helsinki combined, the divers lifted approximately 800 kilograms of garbage. The filthy and muddy garbage, such as electric scooters, car and boat batteries, bikes, empty bottles and cans, sunglasses and even a barbecue dome and a piece of tram rail, gained the attention of passers-by. It was also possible for everyone to join the clean-up on land by picking up trash with garbage tongs. The most common trash on land seemed to be cigarette butts.

The volunteer divers were skilled with many dives under their belt but diving in such poor visibility is not the usual case and not the most pleasant experience. One of the Wärtsilä divers in Vaasa, Jussi Uusipaavalniemi, described how it’s like to dive under these circumstances.

“The aim of the event is to make people aware of the nature under the surface and remind that it’s not wise to use the sea as a rubbish bin. We did it by gathering trash in a local harbour area. On this site water had zero visibility and all the work was done practically blinded. Nevertheless, the dives were safe and rather easy as depth was shallow, and another diver was guiding us by ropes from the shore. “

It has been a great year for the Wärtsilä Dive Against Debris events, as the clean-up event was also held in Dubai for the first time in March 2022, as part of Wärtsilä’s participation in the World Expo. Overall, the Wärtsilä Dive Against Debris in Helsinki marked the company’s 11th clean-up diving event. Thousands of kilos of garbage have been found during these years – even with these small steps we can make a concrete difference locally, not only by collecting trash but also by creating awareness by raising up the topic of protecting the sea and its surroundings.

"This year in Helsinki, we returned to dive in the same place where we had dived just two years ago. It’s amazing that we still found a substantial number of items down there. Bringing up those car batteries can have a huge impact locally to that specific environment", tells Jussi Heikkola, Wärtsilä’s volunteer diver who for several years already has participated in the event in Helsinki.