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Divers shocked by amount of rubbish found during clean-up in Fiordland's Dusky Sound

A team of conservationists and divers has undertaken a mammoth marine clean up in one of the most untouched parts of New Zealand.

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The group of conservationists and divers were shocked by what lay beneath the pristine waters. Source: 1 NEWS

Hidden in remote Fiordland, only a few can access picturesque Dusky Sound, but the team were shocked at what lay beneath its pristine waters.

Rob Wilson, from Ghost Fishing New Zealand, said he thought it was a joke, when approached to take part in the clean-up effort.

"I couldn’t believe anyone would throw rubbish into Dusky Sound. To be honest, I was highly doubtful that there was any rubbish in there. But I was intrigued and when we saw how much was in there, I was horrified."

In just four dives over a single day, 17 people hauled up 2.5 tonnes of rubbish.

"I descended straight onto bottles and cans, gumboots, we removed 12 over the period of a day. Bags. A lot of those large brown beer bottles. We just didn’t stop. I've seen a lot of bad environments but I was certainly not expecting that there," Mr Wilson said.

The marine clean-up was the first of its kind. It was organised by local Charter Boat Operator, Pure Salt.

It's owner Maria Kuster has taken tourists through the sound's unique waters for more than a decade, and she decided she wanted to give back.

"The area we covered was very little. We moored up the vessel in Luncheon Cove in the heart of Dusky Sound and we didn't move from that spot. The scuba divers would lift bags to retrieve the larger items and the free divers would dive down and by hand, pick up bottles and debris."

The mission aids DOC's Dusky Sound Restoration Project. It's aim is to make the area New Zealand's largest bio bank. A nursery of sorts for native species before they're sent around the country.

But rubbish prevents creatures from accessing the sea floor to breed.

"All of the rubbish are on mooring areas. They've parked up and just as they've drunk, they've just thrown them over the side," Mr Wilson said.

It was a shocking discovery for divers, considering most of the visitors are Kiwis.

Though Peter Young of the Fiordland Marine Guardians says its seen visitors habits improve over the years.

"International boats don't come there, but quite a few charter and fishing boats. There's still one or two that could tidy their act up."

The team says this clean-up is the first of what will be an annual expedition.

They will return in the winter to finishing off their work in Luncheon Cove, before mapping out a site for 2021. But they hope future intrepid visitors will make their jobs a little easier in the years to come.