2 people. 70 minutes. 23.7 pounds of marine debris.
On August 24th 2016, our conservation team, comprised of Chief Conservation Officer Tommy Cutt and Outreach Coordinator Demi Fox, collected over twenty-three pounds of marine debris in only seventy minutes of bottom dive time at the Juno Beach Pier. After realizing the amount of marine debris built-up under the pier during a previous marine debris cleanup, conducted in collaboration with Jupiter Dive Center, Cutt and Fox returned to the pier.
During the previous underwater marine debris cleanup, the group of divers collected over eighty-three pounds of marine debris making the total amount of marine debris collected in August over one hundred and seven pounds. In comparison to the millions of tons of plastic dumped into the world’s ocean each year, this number may seem insignificant, but upon realizing that two people collected over one pound of trash every ten minutes during a single cleanup this number becomes impactful.
Both members of our conservation team are devoted to sea turtle and ocean conservation as well as the belief that “small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” This belief- so deeply rooted in their core – drove Cutt and Fox to return to the pier, before normal work hours, to cleanup more marine debris. From personal experience, in our field it is hard to leave a cleanup – beach or marine – knowing that there is still more work to be done. “Witnessing the amount of monofilament, lead weights, and hooks entangled on the pilings beneath the pier makes me want to do this [marine debris removals] every day for the rest of my life” said Cutt.
Fox will tell you “it’s not about us” when referring to Initiatives the conservation team is involved in. Instead, our conservation team focuses on ocean conservation efforts achieved through the acts of the individuals who participate in them, such as the anglers who follow and promote responsible fishing practices on the pier. And for that reason, our conservation team continuously ponders ways to involve more individuals in ocean conservation efforts. Their latest marine debris removal has inspired our team to investigate additional solutions to minimize gear lost below the pier.
Underwater marine debris cleanups are only one component of the Responsible Pier Initiative (RPI). The RPI consists of four key components: first responder workshops, educational signage, underwater cleanups, and pollution prevention measures. Through the RPI over 7,000 pounds of marine debris has been removed from areas surrounding participating piers, yet more debris still remains.
As Fox pointed out, the success of these conservation efforts are only possible because of the individuals and organizations involved. Through these conservation initiatives, Cutt and Fox provide the resources for individuals to engage in small acts of conservation in order to transform the world.
Over the next few months, our team will continue to seek ways to achieve conservation – harmony between humans and sea.