OKALOOSA ISLAND, Fla. (WMBB) — Nearly 100 scuba divers jumped into action to clean a local fishing pier of debris that can harm marine life.
On Aug. 5, 93 divers around Destin met at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier.
Under the surface buddy teams removed wrapped fishing lines and other debris dropped from the pier.
Okaloosa County’s coastal resource team along with the pier staff host this clean-up twice a year. The pier is shut down for fishing during the dive for safety.
Staff said they are seeing less trash each clean-up dive.
“Every time we do this, we obviously see debris,” said Jessica Valek with the Okaloosa County Coastal Resource Team. “We obviously see fishing line and lead and hooks but we’re seeing less and less of it on every dive that we do. Summer is the busier time of the year so there are a lot more fishermen out there, and a lot more people on our beaches, which you know means that there’s going to be a lot more trash. But we’re still seeing fewer large items and I would say a lot fewer weird items a lot fewer new items. I definitely think that it is helping.”
Removing the fishing line is still the top priority to help marine life.
“A lot of the stuff that’s down on the sand can definitely, you know, wash away and it’s going to move. It’s usually not stable, but that fishing line is not going anywhere, and what that does is when there’s a fishing line wrapped around the piling, other things can get hooked on that, whether it be animals or more trash,” said Valek. “So by removing that we remove that risk as well.”
Local organizations Erase the Trace Okaloosa and ECO Clean Marine held an onshore beach clean up removing more than 160 pounds of trash total at the event.
The next pier clean-up will be in the spring of 2024.
Valek said she has some ideas on how to make the dive a larger event for public education.
“We did talk about maybe doing more of a festival, you know, at some point in the future and get a lot more people out here set up talking about conservation, talking about the environment,” said Valek.