UNDP Turkey’s Life Below Water Advocate Şahika Ercümen Dives into Plastic at Istanbul’s Bosphorus

July 3, 2020

UNDP Turkey’s Life Below Water Advocate Şahika Ercümen took a dive into Istanbul’s Bosphorus, raising awareness to the increasing plastic waste in waters.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Turkey announced multiple World Record Holder Free Diver Şahika Ercümen as the Life Below Water Advocate this June.In addition to her athletic achievements, Ercümen has been taking an active role in social awareness projects by diving in various places such as Lake Salda, Gilindire Cave, and Antarctica to draw attention to various environmental issues such as water pollution, plastic usage and global warming.

She made her first dive with her new title UNDP Turkey Life Below Water Advocate to bring attention to water pollution in Istanbul's Bosphorus in late June. Confirming to observing the fish population decreasing and increasingly being replaced with wastes, she underlined having been swimming with plastics more than fish in recent years.

Emphasizing the importance of protecting maritime life, she said: “We find some of our sea creatures in need of help, for example, sea turtles, such as the Caretta Caretta, with plastic bags or nets attached around their necks, with many of them dying.”

 In addition to the existing plastic waste, Ercümen raised concern to the increasing non-recyclable medical plastic waste in the waters due to the pandemic, such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer bottles. “The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization put containers in certain areas where these waste can be disposed. We, as the UN Development Program, are in cooperation with these projects. What we must all do is to use designated containers for such waste” she said.

Announcing her passion for the seas, she mentioned being honored to be the Life Below Water Advocate of UNDP in Turkey, cooperating to tackle this global concern, and working to protect the oceans and seas in Turkey and in the world.