More people than ever are doing their part to clean up ocean garbage, even if it means tanking up and scuba diving down under the ocean to get it themselves, with their own two hands. A team of divers, several hundred strong, officially proved it on Saturday, setting a world record for the largest underwater cleanup.
A total of 633 scuba divers amassed near the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida to support the effort.
Meanwhile, Guinness World Record adjudicator Michael Empric, from New York, attended the occasion to make the official count between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. that morning.
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) June 15, 2019
“I actually stood there and clicked off everyone as they got in the water,” Empric told Sun Sentinel. According to the rules, divers had to enter the water and remain there for at least 15 minutes.
“It doesn’t matter what happens today with the Guinness World Records,” Empric added. “What really matters is that everyone is out there cleaning up around the pier and trying to improve the community.”
But they went ahead and broke the old record anyway.
WORLD RECORD! 633 divers in South Florida broke the Guinness World Record for the largest underwater cleanup in history, collecting thousands of pieces of trash from the ocean floor! 🙌 https://t.co/frH4Wfv1vn pic.twitter.com/e0IqwfUdEB
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@FOX13News) June 16, 2019
We are officially World Record Holder for the Largest Underwater CleanUp. Thank you to our amazing 633 divers that came from all over the country to make break this record possible .
The previous record for the largest dive of this kind was set in 2015. Ahmed Gabr, a former Egyptian Army scuba diver, organized 615 divers to plunge into the Red Sea in Egypt in a monumental cleanup effort.
The latest event was organized by Dixie Divers and facilitated by marine conservation non-profit Project AWARE and scuba diving agency PADI. Their goal was to show how conservation brings more people together than ever. She had recovered a white metal warning sign for boats to stay 100 yards away from the pier.
Project AWARE catalogued the debris that was collected, pulling together the largest database survey of marine debris, a means that could change how ocean pollution policies are enacted in Deerfield and Southern Florida.
“There’s a lot of heavy weights for fishing line down there, but there’s some really beautiful fish, mostly,” 13-year-old Dahlia Bolin told the Sentinel Sun. She and her mother Rebecca had made the trip all the way from Mackinaw, Illinois to be part of the record-setting effort.
According to one participant (fittingly) named Jack Fishman, 3,200 pounds (approx. 1,451 kg) of fishing gear was dredged up from the sea bottom during the event, and an incredible 9,000 pieces of ocean litter was collected by the team in total.
“To say today’s collaboration of The World Record Clean Up Event hosted by Dixie Divers was a success is an understatement,” Fishman later wrote in a Facebook post. “What an amazing day for Conservation and an amazing day for the dive community.”