Our Ballast Point Pier Dive Cleanup to support Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful's "Great American Cleanup" event started a little rocky; as we had two storm fronts that were coming through our area. Luckily for us, our cleanup was right in between the two fronts. Parks Services were gracious enough to close the pier early for us during the dive cleanup, and our local dive shop (World of Water) provided tanks and equipment for the dive. I had may available to the divers the option to come out earlier than planned, in the effort to beat the weather. Because of the recent storm, visibility was less than one foot in most locations, with an average of 74 degrees F temp in and around the waters of the pier.
The group did a great job. I was a bit more disorganized at first in this dive cleanup from others, as I had divers coming in at different times and I wanted to make sure they were given safety briefs prior to going in, as well as having observers until the kayakers arrived, but once we were off and running, I think it ran pretty smoothly. We had volunteer divers from University of Southern Florida’s Scuba Club, USF Polytechnic’s Dive Club, Florida Aquarium’s volunteer divers, Project Aware volunteers, and divers from the Tampa community. In addition, volunteers had collected debris from the waters around the shoreline mangroves to support the diver’s cleanup.
This year we collected approx. 510 pounds of debris. Most of the debris was larger items, such as parking signs, cast nets with weights, and construction equipment. We even had a spotting of a lionfish under the pier, which is a very invasive fish that is making its way into our bay. Overall, we made a positive impact to improving Florida’s largest Estuary, which is Tampa Bay.