Teams of scuba divers on Sunday joined a Sharjah Aquarium initiative to remove waste from a large shipwreck that has become an important marine habitat and popular diving site.
The cargo vessel MC Dara exploded and sank in 1961, a disaster that claimed the lives of 238 people. Twenty highly trained divers from Sharjah Police and the Emirates Diving Centre travelled from Sharjah Aquarium to the scene of the wreck, where they dived to recover more than 300kg of items including old fishing nets.
Over the course of 56 years, the wreck lying 20 metres below the surface has become an important home to marine life, as well as a popular diving site.
The annual beach clean-up was organised by Sharjah Museums Department as part of its ongoing ‘Because We Care’ initiative and to mark the UAE Year of Giving.
Manal Ataya, director-general of Sharjah Museums Department, said: “The sinking of the MV Dara was a terrible tragedy at the time, and everyone at Sharjah Museums Department continues to pay our respects to those who lost loves ones.”
“Over the course of time, the wreck has spawned new life and has become a vital part of the marine ecosystem in our waters. Today, we wanted to honour the importance of volunteering and environmental responsibility as set out in the UAE Year of Giving by focusing our annual beach clean-up on preserving such an important site.”
“Sharjah Museums would like to thank the people who volunteered their time today and praise the skill and dedication of the divers. It is a reminder that we must preserve our natural marine environment for future generations to enjoy.”
The event was the seventh year of beach clean-ups organised by Sharjah Aquarium as part of SMD’s “Because We Care” social responsibility initiative. Each year the initiative chooses a different location for their cleanup campaign.
The team chose to focus on the MV Dara after conducting an earlier site visit and realising the wreck was in urgent need of cleaning. In the weeks running up to the initiative, Sharjah Aquarium conducted workshops for schools and families in which children were taught about recycling and the importance of preserving marine life.
Rashed Al Shamsi, curator of Sharjah Aquarium, said: “The message we want to send out from this event is that our marine environment part is part of our heritage and should be kept clean and in good health. We also want fisherman to understand that while they are an important part of society, they must avoid discarding their old nets in open water.”
“This is UAE Year of Giving and we must all join forces to raise awareness on the importance of preserving marine life and marine environment.”
The clean-up initiative continues to be supported by Bee’ah, the Sharjah environment company, which weighs and identifies all the materials recovered.
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Source: Khaleej Times