633 Divers Just Set a World Record for Collecting Ocean Trash Off a Florida Beach
The divers removed up to 3,200 pounds of waste from the sea floor.
When we think of the amount of trash in our world's oceans, we might automatically think of areas like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a swirling concentration of plastic that's, horrifyingly, estimated to be twice the size of Texas.
But accumulations like that (and four others) unfortunately barely scratch the surface. Trash, especially plastic, is found in high volumes everywhere from shallow coastal waters to our ocean's deepest parts (including at the bottom of the Mariana Trench). According to the NOAA, 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year.
But thanks to the efforts of a group of ocean-loving divers, the sea today feels a little bit lighter. On June 15, scuba enthusiasts from near and far corralled on the sand in Deerfield Beach, Florida, to set a Guinness record that's a little more world-changing than, say, the largest ball of twine.
Under the supervision of a Guinness adjudicator, 633 Scuba fans plied the waters around the South Florida pier—a popular fishing spot—to collect debris from fishing line and fishing weights to scraps of metal and plastic. While the grand total of trash collected is estimated to be around 3,200 pounds, one organizer told the Sun Sentinel that divers recovered more than 1,600 pounds of lead fishing weights alone.
The event, organized by local dive shop Dixie Divers, helped Deerfield Beach participants take the prestigious title from the previous record setter, a 614-person cleanup organized off the coast of Egypt. While that underwater pickup took 24 hours to complete, divers in Florida—who traveled from as far as Europe and South America to participate—exceeded the record in just two hours total.
Impressive as it is, however, the real reward is a cleaner, safer environment for us and all marine life. As Guinness adjudicator Michael Empric told the Sun Sentinel, "it doesn't matter what happens today with the Guinness World Records. What really matters is that everyone is out there cleaning up around the pier and trying to improve the community."
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