(DiverWire) Last Saturday, three teams from Underwater Unlimited dive center (UU) in Miami joined other scuba divers aboard RJ Diving Ventures for a day dedicated to cleaning up local waters. The target? Man-made debris that didn’t belong in the ocean.
“We were enthusiastic about supporting the pilot program organized by the states Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)” said Lisa Mongelia, UU trip coordinator. “After traveling to the Florida Keys for other clean ups, it was nice to have one dedicated to our local waters. It was a perfect fit for divers wanting to join local Earth Day celebrations. Over the last 6 weeks Miami held 35 events culminating with the Baynanza event Saturday. The reef clean up with RJ Diving Adventures, was part of a larger effort that brought 7,500 volunteers together donating their time, talent and resources. In addition, RJ Diving offered a $10.00 discount on boat fees.” Mongelia is also known throughout the diving community as Lisa Mongy. An SSI Instructor, she is also a frequent contributor to DiverWire.com.
During the dive briefing, Jamie Monty of DEP mentioned the various departments and agency’s working together to improve our coastal waters. She instructed participants on proper techniques when removing trash so that there was no further damage to the reef. Divers were provided with catch bags, cutting sheers, marker buoys and clip for their BCD, along with protective gloves for teams to use during the event. If an item was too big or heavy the marker buoy was to be deployed and later using GPS coordinates, a specialty team would come out to handle the recovery. Jamie also explained that we were going to be gathering data for comparisons on reefs with and without mooring buoys.
The UU buddy teams suited up, ran compass headings for search and recovery patterns then spread out along the reef looking for anything from the typical items found: monofilament line, ropes, bottles, cans and plastic bags to heavier items such as: anchors and abandoned lobster traps. As expected, over the course of two dives participants found the typical garbage along with a few surprises: a boat chair, a metal frame, an illegal wire fish trap and a lost weight belt.
Upon the completion of each dive, teams weighed their bags in addition to filling out detailed data sheets listing objects per reef location. Preliminary estimates show that more than 100 pounds of trash and refuge was pulled from the water by divers. “While final statistics were not available when we got off the boat, it seemed that there was significantly less volume of rope found on the mooring buoy site. If the data confirms that, it supports the proactive movement to install more mooring buoys in Miami,” Lisa added.
Monty and her co-workers said they were pleased at the success of the clean up and expect to continue them in the future. The DEP is also launching a new Southeast Florida Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program. The new program allows divers a way to go online to report debris which needs to be recovered.
Mongy said that Underwater Unlimited and it’s staff would be participating in more of these cleanup events in the future.