By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Some eighty kilogrammes of waste have been dredged up from the Gulf of Aqaba as part of an ongoing campaign to clean up after visitors, conservationists said on Tuesday.

The campaign was organised by the Aqaba Marine Park, an affiliate of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority that is in charge of protecting marine life in Jordan’s sole seaport.

“Thousands of visitors flocked to Aqaba during the Eid Al Adha holiday last week. The park carries out regular cleanup campaigns after holidays to remove litter, which harms marine creatures,” Hamzeh Muheissen, head of the awareness department at the Aqaba Marine Park, told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Divers alerted the park that a large quantity of waste was piling over reefs in the seven-kilometre Aqaba Marine Park, Muheissen said, noting that the park initiated the campaign with the cooperation of Aqaba dive centres.

“Nine divers participated in the campaign, which was launched on Monday and will continue until the park is cleaned up by next week. Twenty-six trash bags were filled with waste from under the sea,” he said.

The majority of the collected waste, which was removed from depths of eight to 10 metres, consisted of cans, bottles, paper, and plastic bags, according to the park.

“We cleaned up the King Abdullah Reef yesterday and started on the Yellowstone Area. We do surveys on the most polluted locations and target them,” Muheissen noted.

Underscoring the threat litter poses to marine life, the conservation official urged visitors to stop littering and dispose of their waste in trash bins instead.

Reputed for having one of the world’s most unique coral reef systems, Aqaba’s Red Sea waters are a prime attraction for both tourists and divers.

Some of the underwater treasures include around 127 species of hard coral and 300 kinds of soft coral, as well as thousands of plants and animals that have coexisted in the gulf for hundreds of years.