The water temperature is a little higher than 0 degrees Celcius. 20 fisherman make the dive. Today their prey is not fish but garbage, which lies submerged 5 meters below the water’s surface. The divers are part of the Federation of Underwater Hunting, a group dedicated to eradicating garbage and cleaning up the Dnipro River in Ukraine. They’re located in Zaporizhzhia, a city in southeastern Ukraine.
“Weird hoses, fiberglass, plastic bags, disposable plastic dishes. Everything that gets thrown out from cafes,” says Dmytro, underwater hunter.
The Federation is trying to raise awareness of the garbage issue. The water from the littered Dnipro rivers runs straight to the Kyiv city plumbing system. The tradition of biannual cleaning began 10 years ago when volunteers started cleaning the river.
“We want to make the city, the recreational places cleaner so that our children could come here to have some fun… So much trash! And how much more we are going to get out of the water, in spite of what we had cleaned the previous year. And the new places… The city is all covered in garbage,” adds Oleksandr, underwater hunter.
Each underwater “garbage hunt” yields not less than half a ton of trash.
“You read newspapers, which say that the water gets better, the fish multiplies, the factories dump less waste into the river, but we, underwater hunters, clearly see that the Dnipro river is on the brink of an ecological disaster, this is how big the pressure on the river is. So, guys, let’s live in harmony… with nature,” says Hennadiy Ushakov, Vice President of Underwater Hunting in Zaporizhzhia Region.
The next underwater cleaning session will be held next spring. Also, in an effort to restore the river ecosystem, volunteers will transport more fish into the Dnipro.