Keeping Aruba Beautiful: Annual Beach and Reef Clean-Up Event
by Karen Rollins Sep 16, 2019
Several of the most popular beaches and dive sights in Aruba will be cleaned up on 29 September as part of the annual Aruba Reef Care Project (formerly known as the Aruba Underwater Reef Clean-Up).
The aim of the event is to raise awareness about the island’s delicate marine environment while encouraging people to appreciate and value nature.
Yello asked one of the organisers, Castro Perez, to tell us more about the project and how people can help.
How did the annual clean-ups get started?
It began through the Aruba Reef Care Foundation which came from a friendship between two scuba divers (Castro and Byron Boekhoudt).
We were diving on weekends and noticed a little trash on the reefs, like some bottles and cans, so we decided to pick them up and stuff them in our buoyancy control device.
Then we wanted to do something more direct and structured so in 1994 we organised the first underwater reef clean-up. We had meetings with local dive operators and watersport companies and managed to get 80% of them on board.
We had enough manpower to take care of the dive sites and other reefs. But that same year, we also got a lot of other volunteers who were not divers or snorkellers, willing to help with the cause.
Nowadays, we have more volunteers doing clean-ups on shore than underwater, but we still have some groups that go diving or snorkelling looking for refuse.
We can proudly state that our reefs and dive sites are spic and span because we are working with small snorkel/ dive groups to maintain the shallow beach areas and keep them clean. At least 80% are doing a wonderful job cleaning up by the beaches and coastal areas.
What is the aim of the Aruba Reef Care Project?
The Aruba Reef Care Project was launched in June 2019 (it was originally called Aruba Underwater Reef Clean-Up). The aim remains to educate and raise awareness within the general public about the environment.
We organise lectures at primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions. We hope to reach at least 3,000 students.
Which beaches / dive spots will you be cleaning in 2019?
Our project usually covers areas behind the lighthouse in California and all beaches on the north west side of the island, such as Arashi, Malmok, Boca Catalina, Hadicurari, Palm Beach and Eagle Beach.
We also cover the south eastern part of the island which includes Roger’s Beach, Baby Beach and Boca Grandi, Grapefield and Rincon.
How long will the clean up last?
The clean-up is from 8am until noon.
What goals do you have for the clean-up this year?
We hope to cover more areas, increase the number of participants, and reach more people with our awareness campaign.
How can people get involved?
We have a registration form where volunteers can sign-up, email [email protected]
How many people are you expecting?
Over 700 volunteers. It would be wonderful if we could reach 1,000 which is what we had, I believe, when we celebrated 15 years of clean-ups (10 years ago).
Where do the volunteers come from?
They are 85 per cent local and about 15 per cent tourists. They are usually hotel employees, green teams with tourists, students, service clubs, hiking groups, sport clubs, church groups, boy scouts, dive operators and watersport companies and the general public.
Why is it important for people to participate in projects like this?
So, they become more aware of the value of keeping our island clean and learn to appreciate nature. The awareness behind the clean-up is the most important aspect, especially around protecting the marine environment.
If you’d like to take part in the clean-up, contact Castro Perez on (1 297) 740-0797 / 586 0820 or [email protected]