Hundreds of divers donned their wetsuits and air tanks on June 15 to become the largest group to conduct an underwater cleanup.
The Guinness World Record-setting 633 divers retrieved at least 1,626 pounds of trash and 60 pounds of fishing line at the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida.
The official weight of the trash recovered is still being tallied, and the number is likely to grow, said Tyler Bourgoine, who participated in and helped organize the cleanup. Ocean conservation group Project AWARE estimates that the cleanup might have removed as much as 3,200 pounds of marine debris.
“There were countless lead sinkers … everything from a boat ladder to a barbell,” Bourgoine told CNN.
The city will help with recycling the debris and ensure everything is disposed of properly.
Divers came from as far away as Europe and South America to participate in the event, organized annually by local dive shop Dixie Divers and Deerfield Beach Women’s Club. This year was the 15th cleanup began at around 9 a.m. and lasted about two hours
“It was a great time … Everyone was working together and cleaning up one part of the reef or pier,” Bourgoine told CNN.
The area the divers cleaned has tons of marine life.
“That’s one of the reasons why there’s so much debris,” Bourgoine said. “People are constantly fishing there.”
Ahmed Gabr, a former Egyptian Army scuba diver, set the previous record in 2015 with 613 other divers in the Red Sea in Egypt.
Plastic and other human-produced waste have become a growing presence and problem in the oceans. About 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean annually—equivalent to the weight of nearly 90 aircraft carriers, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Partygoers Leave 10 Tons of Trash on Virginia Beach
Partygoers attending a “Floatopia” event spent the day drinking and bobbing in the Virginia Beach surf. And then they left behind tons of trash.
“Leave nothing but footprints,” is akin to the Golden Rule for nature. The attendees of the event at Chic’s Beach on May 24 failed miserably at following it.
Nearby residents awoke on Memorial Day with the trash from the previous day’s event covering the beach: floats, collapsible canopies, boogie boards, bottles and more.
On a normal weekend, public works employees collect about a ton of trash from the area. This weekend, they collected 10 tons.
This morning..neighbors went down and city trucks showed up pic.twitter.com/4yOcpWGWHu
— Jeannie Kartis (@jeannie_kartis) May 27, 2019
— WTKR News 3 (@WTKR3) May 27, 2019
Y’all really went to floatopia and left our beaches like this? Shame on you. pic.twitter.com/p1EeHYBth5
— Sierra Taylor (@Sierrantaylor) May 27, 2019
Video footage and pictures of the trash circulated widely online, prompting angry reactions from some people in the community.
“I was disappointed to wake up this morning to see images of trash all over our beautiful Chesapeake Bay beach after Sunday’s festivities. We can do better than this! Let’s work together to keep our city beautiful and clean,” councilman Michael Berlucchi said in a Facebook post.
A video recorded by Melissa Noel showing piles of trash garnered over 1.1 million views.
“Wow. Stay classy Virginia Beach,” she said while moving her phone around to capture the scene. “I think there’s what, maybe one, two trash cans in the middle of that?” she added, showing a huge pile of trash.
“I almost don’t want to live here anymore,” she said.
Virginia Beach spokesperson Drew Lankford told CNN the event was not city-sponsored or sanctioned. The event began with a Facebook invite and spread through word of mouth.
“If youve been to a Floatopia then ‘ya know what its all about,” read the invite. “Bring your own beverage in a cup/coozie/cooler, and of course-FLOATS!!!!”
“Most of us have never heard of it,” Lankford said.
Now, they have.
“We’re happy to have people come down there and enjoy the beach and have a good time,” Lankford says.
He even says had he known about it he’d have probably gone out there to partake. But it’s a public beach and they should have cleaned up after themselves.
“It’s not fair, particularly to the people that live right there,” he says.
Barry Preston, who lives at the beach, says it’s not the first time they’ve had issues with the event.
NTD News reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.