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Photo credits | Albatros Top Boat

Male’, Maldives, 1st June 2024 – Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems, necessitating urgent action. The CUPID (Clearing Underwater Plastic in Diving) 4 Science project is pioneering innovative solutions to address the pervasive issue of plastic and microplastic contamination in the oceans. Recognizing the pivotal role of public support in combating macro and microplastics, the project places a strong emphasis on citizen science, engaging sea enthusiasts, including divers, freedivers, and sailors, in both recreational and professional endeavors.

The primary objective of the CUPID 4 Science project is to effectively coordinate volunteer efforts to remove and responsibly dispose of plastic and microplastics from marine environments. Through comprehensive guidelines and training, participants are equipped to contribute to clean-up activities during their excursions.

The inaugural clean-up activity of the CUPID 4 Science project commenced from May 13 to 20, 2024, with a diving expedition in the Maldives aboard the vessels “Duke of York” and “Conte Max,” facilitated by Albatros Top Boat. This initiative provided an invaluable opportunity to promote the campaign and evaluate the feasibility of the project’s core protocol. The research was overseen by an Italian team affiliated with Apnea Academy Research, led by multiple champion Mr. Umberto Pelizzari.

Throughout the expedition, divers meticulously identified and removed underwater plastic and microplastics across various depths, while non-divers applied the same approach to clean beaches on remote islands. These ongoing efforts are essential in striving towards plastic-free marine zones, necessitating regular clean-up dives to mitigate plastic accumulation and raise awareness among volunteers.

Central to the project’s success is the meticulous recording and cataloging of data from collected samples, including underwater and coastal debris. This data will be meticulously cataloged, weighed, and shared through an accessible online portal, facilitating ongoing monitoring and collaboration with the scientific community, local authorities, and educational institutions.

Moreover, the CUPID 4 Science project is pioneering efforts to evaluate the efficacy of capturing microplastics at their source using specialized filters, aiming to reduce their emission into the marine environment.

The project’s impact extends beyond research, fostering partnerships with Maldivian institutions, environmental agencies, and local communities to amplify conservation efforts. Moving forward, the project aims to expand its reach, encouraging more resorts, boats, and diving centers to join the cause.

Under the motto “United to rid the ocean of plastic,” the CUPID 4 Science project embodies a collaborative approach towards marine conservation, with initiatives such as “The Barefoot Eco Hotel” actively supporting sustainable practices and scientific research to safeguard our oceans for future generations.

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