So, although this is not my first Project AWARE dive that I have coordinated, here is my first blog: We had 100 local Tampa Florida volunteers and scuba divers participate in a combined event last Saturday, 17 September 2011, at the Jules Verne Park at Ballast Point Pier.
My wife, Christine, and I were site captains for the Park and Pier, and coordinated a shore cleanup and pier dive cleanup to support both Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup and Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris at the same time. We were the only location in Florida (and probably the U.S.) that had both events occurring at the same location that day.
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, who sponsored ICC, coordinated cleanup events all over the local Tampa sites for beach and shore cleanups. Christine and I have coordinated Project AWARE dives in the past, so we decided to combine both the park cleanup and a dive cleanup at our site, providing an opportunity to maximize debris collection. We had a great time, and had the opportunity to an impact in Tampa’s bay shoreline. The response from the community to help was great. We had volunteers from the Florida Aquarium, Krewe of the Nautilus, as well as from the community, who helped remove the debris from both the shore and all of the underwater debris around the pier, such as fishing line, plastic bottles, and other debris that needed to be cleared.
When it was all done, collected, and documented, we ended up with over 540 pounds of trash and debris. This event proves to me that the community has made a commitment to address our local marine debris issues, and they are now willing to help contribute to the global cleanup of marine debris. Because of this success, we are now planning two more Dive Against Debris cleanups over the the next month. I hope that this will continue to grow in my area and increase awareness.
Stangest find of the dive: We found an urn, sealed with the remains still in it. Yes, someone threw an entire urn in the bay. Once we realized what we had, we u unanimously decided to go back out and bury it in the water where we found it. We did not want any hauntings!