Blue Star Dive Operators Report Removing Nearly Three Tons of Marine Debris from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as part of Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys
The Dive Shop at the Reef, DiveN2Life, and Key Dives continue cleanup dives with support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
as part of Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys
MONROE COUNTY, FL – Local Blue Star Dive Operators DiveN2Life, Key Dives and The Dive Shop at the Reef recently reported results from Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys cleanup dives supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (the Foundation). Between July and November, these dive operators collectively removed 5,958 pounds of marine debris and more than 5,517 feet of displaced line from reefs and the seafloor throughout Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (the sanctuary).
Partner dive operators conducted 12 cleanup dives between North Key Largo and the Lower Keys so far with the help of recreational and professional divers. In total, 271 divers spent 410 hours underwater as part of Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys. In addition to displaced line, debris collected includes bottles and cans, traffic cones, derelict lobster traps and parts of traps, chain, anchors and construction debris.
Lost or abandoned fishing gear and trash entangle corals, sea fans, sponges, sea turtles, manatees and other marine life. It degrades seagrass, hard bottom, coral reefs and mangrove habitats, and detracts from the natural beauty of the Florida Keys. Outcomes of the project include an assessment of the amount and type of debris located within critical areas throughout the sanctuary, removing derelict traps and other marine debris, and helping the regional economy by working with local businesses and the tourism industry to restore marine habitats and ecosystems.
“Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is home to the world’s third-largest living barrier reef, an ecosystem that is under threat,” said Kris Sarri, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “We are proud to support Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys, which allows us to support conservation solutions and involve members of the local community and businesses in protecting this incredible and unique resource.”
DiveN2Life, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to introducing young people to the ocean’s physical and cultural landscapes through science and research diving projects, received funding to offer marine debris cleanup dives directed at youth. The organization, based out of Big Torch Key, allows students age 10 and older who already participate in DiveN2Life’s Lower Keys Scientific Dive Team Program to take part in a series of reef cleanup dives with adult supervision.
Key Dives, a full-service, first-class dive facility on Islamorada received funding to offer free, bi-weekly cleanup dive trips to Keys residents. Each dive can accommodate up to 18 divers resident and non-resident divers and will be focused on Alligator Reef, Donut Reef, Jeri’s Joint, Merkel Reef, and surrounding areas as needed. Non-diving volunteers are also welcome to accompany and participate in cleanups by recording debris before disposal.
The Dive Shop at the Reef, an independent service provider to Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo, received funding to conduct bi-weekly cleanup dives. Dives will focus on Carysfort reef and the surrounding reefs and coastal waters, including Card Sound, Barnes Sound, and North Pennekamp state waters.
The Foundation continues to support the removal and disposal of marine debris that presents a high risk of damaging important marine resources in critical sanctuary management areas. Eligible Blue Star certified dive operators can learn more and apply for funding here. The Foundation reviews Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys funding applications on a rolling basis.
DiveN2Life, a year-round, extracurricular STEM enrichment program serving youth, their families, and K-12 teachers in the lower Florida Keys, held another Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys Dive Against Debris event on Sunday, July 29, 2018. Jr. Scientific Divers-in-Training, teachers, DiveN2Life volunteer educators, and dive professionals worked together to remove marine debris, which remains a troublesome concern throughout the Florida Keys ten months after Hurricane Irma, from Looe Key Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) and the surrounding reef. DiveN2Life is authorized to assist in Sanctuary Management under permit number FKNMS-2018-051. DiveN2Life is also permitted to retrieve derelict spiny lobster traps, derelict stone crab traps, derelict blue crab traps, and trap debris as described in Chapter 68B-55, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) throughout state waters and the waters of Monroe County, including Looe Key S.P.A. DiveN2Life, a non-profit 501c (3) educational enrichment and mentoring organization, introduces youth to physical nature and cultural landscapes through service learning projects and place-based research during outdoor adventures that are hands-on, inquiry-driven, and experiential. DiveN2Life youth programs focus on students from culturally and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds who are at-risk for underachievement or dropping out of traditional educational programs, or who otherwise might not have access to enrichment programs in applied Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Humanities areas. At DiveN2Life, participants learn while working alongside professionals to conduct conservation work and stewardship projects in the field, and then design and carry out their own research studies and investigations. These meaningful and authentic enrichment experiences engage and motivate participants to pursue careers in STEM, Ecology, Nature Preservation, and Humanities, as well as enhance their overall motivation for learning and appreciation for the natural environment.Support for this event was provided by a generous grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.For more information on the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, please visit https://marinesanctuary.org . For information on diving Looe Key S.P.A. in the beautiful Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, contact Looe Key Reef Resort and Dive Center at 305.872.2215 or visit diveflakeys.com .If you would like more information on DiveN2Life, please visit diven2life.org .
Posted by DiveN2Life on Monday, July 30, 2018
Video courtesy of DiveN2Life
The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems, and preserve America’s maritime heritage through on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs and scientific research and exploration.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of waters surrounding the Florida Keys, from south of Miami westward to encompass the Dry Tortugas, excluding Dry Tortugas National Park.
Blue Star is a voluntary program that recognizes charter boat operators who promote responsible and sustainable diving and snorkeling practices, helping keep the reef healthy for generations to come.
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