What is marine debris?

Marine debris is anything that doesn’t belong in the ocean. Typically, marine debris refers to trash discarded by humans: plastic, glass, aluminum cans, fishing nets, etc.

Ocean debris is costly to marine life and people. In 2016 alone, divers reported 1,624 entangled marine animals, and “ghost” fishing nets caused thousands of dollars of damage to fishing communities and countless loss of marine life.

Why Dive Against Debris®?

For many people, marine debris is out of sight out of mind. Thankfully, divers have the unique ability to bring to the surface what’s going on beneath the waves. In 2011, Project AWARE launched Dive Against Debris, and since then more than 30,000 divers in 50+ countries have geared up to protect the ocean and the creatures who live there.

A Dive Against Debris includes two important parts: debris removal and reporting. Removing rubbish improves the underwater habitat. Reporting what you find helps reveal the extent of the global marine debris crisis. Without debris data, scientists and conservationists can’t advocate for change.

project aware dive against debris

What’s In Your Wallet?

Divers who earn the Dive Against Debris Specialty distinguish themselves as caretakers for the underwater world. The Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty course:

  • Explains how to conduct a debris survey including photo techniques and learning what to take, and what to leave
  • Teaches you how to sort, weigh, report and dispose of marine debris
  • Counts towards the prestigious PADI Master Scuba Diver Rating
  • Enables you to be part of a global movement for change

Make Every Dive Count

Dive Against Debris surveys provide valuable information about the effects of ocean pollution to help inform and advocate for systemic policy change. Additionally, each report adds to the interactive Dive Against Debris Map where divers (and others) can visualize their impact at a local and global level.

dive against debris map

The Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty course is available to certified divers age 12 and older. Contact your PADI Dive Center or Resort for more information, or to enroll.

If you already have the Dive Against Debris Specialty, or are taking a break from diving, support the efforts of Project AWARE by making a donation or ordering a limited-edition Project AWARE replacement certification card for yourself or as a gift for a friend. You can contact your PADI dive center or resort to order or  get it online (online ordering not recommended for mobile devices).

Further Reading

Project AWARE Dive Against Debris Specialty Instructor Materials for PADI Pros
Dive Against Debris Mobile App (Android and iOS)
Donate to Project AWARE

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