GF2: final thoughts

The team were pleased with the week as a whole. Sadly the weather played a part but actually probably helped as it gave time and space for contemplation and conversation which is where the real engine of any successful project lies. The week was very different from 2015 with a change in focus on the wrecks themselves. The pile of debris on the pier at the end of the week was less impressive but the effort, dedication and commitment required to make that pile was as string as ever. The week had a stronger foundation as the data collected validates and quantifies the nature of the problems we face but at the same time forms the foundations of the decisions we must take to find solutions.

Next year is already in the diary and we are taking the next steps down the road to 2017.

A massive thank you to all the team and well done! Good work guys.


Day 6: round up and head home!

On the last day we focused efforts on the Koln so the team surveyed and sent up any debris found on the wrecks. By now the team are really flying and the rubbish came to the surface thick and fast.

Most of the week’s participants were chosen for slightly ulterior motives: the Ghost Fishing initiative is being extended throughout the Uk and many of the people who will lead initiatives around the UK were here this week to learn the skills and form a community with the experience to go home and start their own local projects.


Day 5.5: pause for thought

In the afternoon we sat down to talk through where we are now and where we are going. The spirit of the week has changed from last year with the emphasis on harvesting data as well as gathering up the debris. Decisions are best made when informed by the best information and this year we have focused a lot of effort into marine species ID, numbers and quantity of items gathered, an assessment of the damage potentially being caused and other factors that can be quantified.

Projects like these have an immediate output, such as the wrecks being cleaned. But there are plenty of ancillary outputs too and can include the possibility to be part of a wider program such as MSC accreditation. These additional outputs rely on data to substantiate the their own benefit but when they work, they really help to change the paradigm and keep the a seas cleaner. Hopefully the week can be far more wider reaching than just a tidy up of the wrecks.


Day 5: more weather

The weather this day really howled with winds from the west that were well into gale force. Rich presented a talk on the tedious topic of the legislation: which is where the problems often lie. We can be too keen to get on with the job in hand but actually, behind the scenes, there are protocols to be observed and paperwork to be completed. Here at the Bigscapacleanup were are really well supported by a good swathe of positive minded supporters in the various local organisations that all touch specifically upon Scapa Flow. First and foremost is Historic Environment Scotland: the wrecks are protected under legislation that makes it illegal to tamper with anything within a 250m exclusion zone so without official sanction the project has no mandate. Secondly, the wreck lie within the Orkney Harbours area so we maintained a good liason with them too. I haven’t mentioned names but they know who they are and this is a small token of the appreciation that we would like to extend to them for their support and assistance.

Day 4: Brummer

I have a little confession to make: Dive 1, I had a problem with the housing and Dive 2, I left the lens cap on. Neadless to say, there are not to many pictures that day. However I did sneak off and grab a shot of the search light iris just for old times sake. But there again, there is a bit of me that defends my skive with the thought that the wrecks are there to be appreciated and all the hard work by the troops over the week allows the wrecks to be appreciated just that little bit more. So in a way, all I am doing is enjoying the fruits of their labours whilst they are labouring!

SMS Brummer

Day 3: Weather!

Today was notable for the weather: early bath at lunch having dived the Brummer.

However, this was maybe the best result possible as we spent the afternoon around a table making plans and working through strategies. Sometimes thinking is more important than doing so hopefully we achieved loads despite not adding to the pile on the pier.


Day 1: busy start

The day started with a series of talks and briefings to bring the team up to speed. We then went for a recce down the west side of Cava before turning our attention to the wreck of the Karlsruhe. The end of the Stromness south pier now hosts a small pile of litter that marks the team just getting going in their quest..

Removing net from the seabed..
Removing net from the seabed..