David Gower backs Sky Ocean Rescue ahead of England v South Africa
By Oli Burley
Last Updated: 25/07/17 9:28pm
David Gower grew up by the Indian Ocean but only developed a passion for diving after England sunk without trace in the 1983 World Series Cup.
This week Gower will present live coverage of the third Test between England and South Africa as Sky Ocean Rescue team up with Surrey to help make The Kia Oval a plastic-free venue.
Ahead of the match, the Sky Sports commentator explained why cleaning up our oceans is so important for the health of the planet, the dangers plastic poses to the environment, as well as his tips for becoming an #OceanHero…
Have you always had a natural affinity to the ocean?
David Gower: "For the first six years of my life I grew up in Dar es Salaam by the nice, warm Indian Ocean; I didn't grow webbed feet or fins but I did spend a lot of time on the beach and swimming in the ocean and ocean pools as the first house I lived in was very close to the beach."
How did you discover diving?
DG: "We had a slight mishap in 1982/83 when England failed to make the finals of the Benson & Hedges one-day competition - Australia played New Zealand in the final - so we had a spare week. A lot of the guys went back to Sydney but I went up to Hayman Island in the Whitsundays and took my first diving lessons."
What struck you about that experience?
DG: "The Great Barrier Reef is spectacular and impossible to forget. The first time I went four or five of us took a helicopter out and spent my first 40 minutes amongst the most extraordinary corals and a wonderful array of fish; to be eye-ball-to-eye-ball with so many species was brilliant."
Where's your favourite place to dive?
DG: "Ningaloo Reef is located in a protected region off the west coast of Perth, where the reef itself is just metres from the sand. One of the best dives in the world is the Exmouth Navy Pier, which is teeming with aquatic life, including the extraordinary Wobbegong shark. We stayed at a camp called Sal Salis, which is run as an eco-reserve so water is strictly rationed and all rubbish is carefully looked after. It emphasises how fragile our environment is."
What evidence have you seen of ocean pollution?
DG: "The amount of plastic that is washed up on beaches around the world, including the UK, is unbelievable; plastic makes up 95 per cent of the rubbish in our oceans and I've seen pictures of the middle of the Pacific where there are eddies full of the stuff. It's an extraordinary concept. Only the other morning in the paper I saw a picture of people in Cornwall who have built a boat out of the stuff found on the beach. Coral bleach is a bigger issue on the Barrier Reef but when you dive there is always some evidence of mankind's impact."
With micro plastics found inside a third of fish in the English Channel, will you continue to eat seafood?
DG: "We're told, of course, that eating fish is a very healthy thing and I do enjoy seafood as part of a balanced diet! But the more you read about what the world's fish are ingesting, the more you start to wonder about the health impacts on humans and what exactly we are all eating."
Around 40 percent of plastics are used only once in Europe. Have you taken any steps to cut back on plastic use?
DG: "I'm building up quite a big collection of bags for life - so I must start remembering to take them with me. Seeing pictures of what happens to turtles, for example, when they ingest a plastic bag thinking it is a jellyfish is terrible. Casting plastic bags into the sea is unacceptable and therefore anything that reduces the overall use of plastic bags makes sense. We certainly do that."
Do you have any other tips for becoming an #Oceanhero?
DG: "It is sound advice to take a paper bag with you when you go to your greengrocers for your fruit and veg; in fact avoiding plastic bags and packaging whenever you can will help tackle the problem no end. If you're coming to the cricket this week - or simply having a picnic - try to bring your lunch in a picnic basket or cool box."
David Gower - Honorary Vice President of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Patron of the Save Foundation - will present live coverage of the third Test between England and South Africa, brought to you in association with Sky Ocean Rescue, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Thursday.
To find out more about Sky Ocean Rescue and how you can get involved, simply click here.