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Gliding like ghosts

Being the sort of person who has watched Blue Planet more than several times, having some free time around my teaching commitments I jumped at the chance to swim with Manta Rays.

I had to rent a go pro – and the photos don’t do them justice. The visibility wasn’t great as the water was thick with plankton but I was thrilled to even catch a glimpse of these amazing underwater creatures. They look like flying carpets. It’s completely unreal. And swimming above you, they’re definitely the size of a Smart car.

Breathing requires focused work and effort. Equalise, equalise, equalise!

Facing fear

I was terrified of doing the scuba dive as, even though I snorkel and have tried a little free diving I was worried about the equipment. Unless you have ear problems I recommend you just do it if you have the chance!

Man-made nightmare

Travelling around Nusa Penida, one of the sister islands to Bali, I was struck at just how much plastic there was. And this is what goes into the oceans. Creatures like these beautiful mantas, in particular are devastated by the lack of care taken by humans. Manta rays cannot close their mouths. As they eat tiny life forms, they just allow all water to pass through them. Which means any plastic or debris floating around also gets caught.

A global responsability

If you’ve ever been to South East Asia, you’ll have been dumbstruck by the amount of plastic people just throw onto the ground, into the ocean and rivers. It’s horrifying. There’s no understanding or resource to get this problem sorted. It’s a worldwide epidemic of careless throwaway crap.

And yet we still go… You can experience things you’d never even dream of and it’s cheap enough here to afford a little more luxury than back home. So we should make it somewhere we’re not cringing to look at! There are many Westerners and locals working together already doing wonderful things – beach clean-ups, zero waste retreat centres, eco buildings, banning single use plastics or plastic wrap containers and cutlery – you name it. But these solutions work in an environment that isn’t already totally wrecked by the amount of plastic.

Is there hope?

Mantas like these are in danger because of our plastic disposal

So how can you help? I’m setting up a small non-profit travel group for backpackers who want to really do something good. It will involve living for free in paradise in exchange for some focused and world-saving work. Right now we’re in the very early stages, but partnerships include free food, lodging and experiences for the duration of your stay. It’s a chance to really make a change.

We’re hoping to have this up and running by the end of 2020, to trial with a small group and then expand. We’ll supply everything you need to pioneer a new brand of eco-tourism that makes sustainable change.

 I’ve taken care of all the local meetups. And I’ll keep you informed when we’re ready to begin with our very first group. You only need to save for the flight ticket…

To begin with I desperately need:

  • People who understand how to process and recycle rubbish. Is this you? You’ll be very creative, as resources are limited and you might have to think on the fly. You’ll be free to be on the ground in Indonesia for at least 6 months in 2020.
  • People who understand international law about logistics and waste disposal. You might not be needed on the ground forever, but you’ll be needed while we set up.
  • Fundraisers. You might be my first volunteers abroad if you have the time, but in the UK you’ll be raising the cash we need to fund our base of operations abroad. After our experts have created a plan and a budget, there’s no event too silly and no amount too small. We don’t need a lot of people raising millions, but if everyone you knew, and everyone they knew even contributed just £1 we could easily create what we needed. Think about it.

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