Earth Day Dive Cleanup with SeaExperience
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
April 22, 2023
On Saturday, April 22nd, 2023, The International SeaKeepers Society co-hosted a dive cleanup with our friends at SeaExperience, a dive shop located in Ft. Lauderdale. SeaExperience is awarded the PADI Green Star to commemorate their efforts and dedication to conservation and identify them as a dive shop that cares about our coastal environment and actively takes steps to protect it. This weekend we had 12 divers helping to clean the reef of plastic cargo straps, fishing lines, nets, and soda cans and bottles. We covered 2 sites this outing, first diving over the artificial reef, “Hog Heaven” the site of a wrecked barge sunken intentionally, which reaches depths of 60-70 feet. A structure at this site, “The Jungle Gym” is home to a plethora of life. Most of our trash was picked up here, in about half an hour to 45 minutes depending on how quickly divers ran out of air. The second tank was spent on a drift dive over a shallow reef where another pound or 2 of fishing line, hooks, and weights were collected. The total trash picked up weighed in at 31 pounds! This is the most we have ever collected on a dive clean up and we are ecstatic we were able to remove so much trash from the reef. Usually, we collect around 9-10 pounds on both dives, and it is curious that we saw so many more cargo straps on this outing than on any other occasion. One hypothesis that could explain this is that the heavy rain sustained the past two weeks flooded Port Everglades and caused a gas shortage in South Florida may have increased boat traffic in the area in the rush to replenish. Either way, we are happy to have taken this much plastic out of the ocean! We look forward to next month’s cleanup with SeaExperience and are so grateful for their dedication to the mission of protecting the ocean.
Marine Debris Tracker is a data collection app that allows the general public to contribute to an open-date platform and scientific research by recording the different types of litter, specifically plastic pollution, that they find in either inland or marine environments. Marine Debris Tracker was developed by the University of Georgia’s Jambeck Research Group, which SeaKeepers worked with in 2021 when the Jambeck Research Group collaborated with Ocean Conservancy to assess Miami’s plastic waste management, known as a Circularity Assessment Protocol. SeaKeepers again assisted the Jambeck Research Group’s Circularity Informatics Lab in 2022 with another Circularity Assessment Protocol in the Florida Keys. The researchers of the Jambeck Lab use the Marine Debris Tracker app to record their data, and with citizen scientists also using the app, more data can be collected in different areas. Using Marine Debris Tracker at our cleanups involves community members in creating a bigger picture of plastic pollution, and provides the means for new scientific findings to be generated as well as for effective local legislation to be informed. SeaKeepers is excited to be incorporating this app at our cleanups and continue our mission of coastal education, protection, and restoration.