We caught up with PADI Torchbearer and leader of Sunshine Coast Clean Up Divers (SCCUD), Elliot Peters, to shine a light on the inspiration, actions and hopes of another amazing PADI Torchbearer taking local conservation action for global impact.

“SCCUD is an open invitation initiative to clean up below the water line on the Sunshine Coast. We focus on removing, reporting and responsibly discarding debris from shallow waterways and shoreline. Whether you scuba, snorkel, or freedive, you can help collect and sort debris or offer surface watch support. Your participation is welcome! 😀

Founder and group leader, Elliot Peters, began the group in 2018 after engaging in dive clean ups with friends and an established group on the Gold Coast throughout 2017. The group was set-up utilising guidelines from AWARE and the Adopt a Dive Site program. SCCUD continues to collaborate with AWARE as well as Tangaroa Blue and the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.

Our waterways, estuaries, lakes and dams are saturated with debris. Our clean ups are recorded in national and international databases which are accessed by government and other organisations to help inform policy and actions needed to tackle marine debris.”

Hi Elliot! Thanks for your passion and commitment to ocean health. What does diving mean to you?

Diving is life. From the moment I submerged in the ocean for the first time on my PADI Open Water Diver course, to today, I have been continually amazed by the underwater world. Diving has led me grow and change and improve so much in so many ways, from cutting out seafood, to decreasing my overall consumption and becoming a successful vegetarian and working towards being 100% vegan. When I can’t dive at least once a week, I become more irritable and depressed. Diving is my mindfulness, my adventure, my enjoyment, and my passion.

Why is saving the ocean important to you?

Saving the ocean is of the utmost importance to me, because it gives so much to me. Not only do I get immense enjoyment from immersing in it. A healthy ocean sustains the planet and all its inhabitants. It regulates the climate and the weather, it homes millions of creatures, it connects us and brings us all joy even just by visualising it. Without the healthy ocean of the last several millennia, the entire planet will change dramatically.

What area of conservation are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about marine debris, because as an experienced diver, I can do something many can’t, which is to clean up under the waterline.

What environmental achievements are you most proud of?

I’m proud to lead a voluntary community of divers which clean up underwater. We have removed almost 1.5 tonnes of harmful debris, including over 50km of fishing line. I’m also proud that I am continually lessening my impact on the planet, significantly cutting down my footprint through change in consumption choices.

How do you view the connection between community/individual well-being and ocean health?

I perceive the connection as being vitally significant. As mentioned previously, the ocean sustains our planet and in turn sustains us. Without a healthy ocean, the planet suffers and we suffer. Whether it be through lack of or contaminated ocean resources that we consume, or simply the loss of the aesthetics of beautiful ocean views. That all impacts our health and wellbeing. 

If you could ask the Torchbearer Community to take one ocean-saving action, what would it be?

Decrease your emissions footprint. CO² and methane emissions are dramatically effecting the health of our oceans. There’s is so many ways you can do this, through better transport choices, carbon offsetting, decreasing meat consumption, switching your energy provider, investing in and supporting companies working towards lower greenhouse emissions, calling for a climate emergency to be recognised. Every action helps, and it has to be done if we want to continue to live on a healthy planet.

Anything else you would like to add?

Get involved in marine debris clean ups, start your own if there isn’t anything locally. It’s quite easy to get in touch with PADI AWARE Foundation and utilise their resources and expertise so you can do your own underwater community clean ups. They are so much fun and so rewarding, you’ll be surprised not only by the amount of debris, especially in places where recreational fishing is popular, but also by the wonderful marine life that you’ll see while doing it.

Do you have a conservation-in-action story or initiative that you want to share? Get in touch with us on [email protected].

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