A group of divers have come together in Florida to take part in a record-breaking beach cleanup.
Divers from Europe and South America, as well as locals, descended on Deerfield Beach, north of Miami, to participate in the cleanup operation.
Organised by Dixie Divers and Deerfield Beach Women’s Club, it’s the 15th year the cleanup has been arranged. This year the group collected more rubbish than ever, which is an impressive feat, but perhaps concerning when you actually think about it.
633 divers took part in total, collecting around 1,626 pounds of rubbish, and 60 pounds of fishing line, in the two-hour pickup. However, the official weight of the collection is still being tallied, with some people estimating the cleanup removed around 3,200 pounds of debris.
The effort has broken the Guinness World Record for the largest group to conduct an underwater cleanup, as CNN reports.
According to Tyler Bourgoine, who helped organise the event, the area off Deerfield Beach is very popular for fishing, which is why so much debris is present.
Bourgoine said: ‘It was a great time … Everyone was working together and cleaning up one part of the reef or pier.’
During the dive, the adjudicator for Guinness, Michael Empric, said he counted up every diver as they entered the water, telling the Sun Sentinel: ‘I actually stood there and clicked off everyone as they got in the water. So we know immediately whether or not the record’s been broken.’
Arlington Pavan, owner of the Dixie Divers facility in Deerfield Beach, told the paper, via The Hill:
Oh, it’s amazing to see everybody here, happy, just amazing. The last record took 24 hours and we did it in two hours, so it’s amazing.
While a 13-year-old diver who took part, Dahlia Bolin, talked about the debris she picked up, saying:
It was at the end of the pier about 20 feet down, just kind of buried in the sand. There’s a lot of heavy weights for fishing line down there, but there’s some really beautiful fish, mostly.
The record was previously held by Ahmed Gabr, a former scuba diver with the Egyptian Army, who organised a dive in the Red Sea in 2015 for 613 divers.
According to the National Ocean Service, around eight million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans every year.
Actions like this are great, but they come after the fact. We can all do better to prevent the need for such records to be broken.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.