Every now and again you meet someone truly dedicated to their cause. For Masayuki Tatsumi (Masa) being a marine biologist is anything but just a ‘job’. When Masa isn’t busy working on his PhD studies into climate change impacts on kelp at the University of Tasmania, or running the university dive club you can find him busy setting up a local conservation project, ‘Conserving Our Neighbours in Tamar’.
The project aims to help clean up some of the frequently used coastal sites along the Tamar estuary in Tasmania. Equally important however is the remit to raise local public awareness of the underwater beauty of the Tamar and its environmental challenges. Masa hopes to achieve this not just through hard science, but with a softer approach as well. Through using art and imagery to educate kids, Masa hopes to nurture a sense of ownership for the local marine environment.
Joining Masa on the project is his partner Grace. Grace is an artist and plans to make a eye-catching sculpture from the items collected during Masa’s planned series of local clean-up dives. It was on one of these clean-up weekends that Polly and I caught up with Masa and joined him to document the group’s efforts.
Masa and his friends have planned the clean-up dives at a number of jetties and bridges – places where people tend to congregate are likely to yield the most litter. I joined Masa at Low Head marine at the northern extremity of the Tamar estuary.
Diving in a silt-covered marina with zero current to disperse the mud whilst all around me people wrestled litter from the sea bed provided quite a photographic challenge but we came away with some shots that Masa can hopefully find useful to promote the project.
Our haul (yes I collected some too!) included an anchor, a garden chair, three fishing rods, fishing lures and numerous cans and bottles weighing in at 22kg in total. The anchor had a lot to do with that!
The next day Masa took us to see some of the wonders the Tamar estuary has to offer divers. We headed for a site not far from Low Head called the Farewell Beacon. Here the turquoise blue waters offered up a sponge and coral garden plunging rapidly to depths of 60 metres or more. The seabed teemed with life including sea slugs, crabs and fish of every colour and shape.
The dives showed me just what a wonderful yet fragile place the Tamar estuary is. Every activity on the river and estuary for its entire length puts extra strain on the complex and diverse ecosystem it supports. I wish Masa every success in raising local awareness of this great place and am pleased Polly and I were able to help out in our own way. If you want to get involved and find out more, you can contact Masa at firstname.lastname@example.org.