Common Sea Fans (<em>Gorgonia ventilina</em>) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventilina) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Photo: Chantal Collier

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Photo: Joe Marino

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Southeast Florida Reef News

Trash Talk: A Recap of the 2014 Reef Cleanup Results

Karen Bohnsack, Reef Resilience Coordinator

A diver removes marine debris during the 2014 Reef Cleanup
A diver removes marine debris during the 2014 Reef Cleanup

Many people have seen trash along Florida’s coastlines and beaches, but once it disappears underwater this marine debris goes largely unnoticed. Fortunately, southeast Florida is home to many divers who are willing to help remove some of the trash that has made its way underwater and onto our coral reefs. This past summer, they did just that during the 4th Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative in partnership with local dive businesses in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. In Martin County, DEP also partnered with Peck’s Lake Reef Dive Cleanup, as part of the 6th Annual Treasure Coast Waterway Cleanup.

This year, 91 divers participated in the 4th Annual Southeast Florida Reef cleanup aboard one of 7 charter boats, and an additional 29 divers participated in a cleanup at Blue Heron Bridge which was included for the first time as part of this event. These divers spent an estimated 181 hours underwater, and collectively managed to haul in approximately 575 pounds of debris from the sea floor.

The composition of debris varied between sites, especially between the reef sites and Blue Heron Bridge. Among the types of debris found, monofilament line was the most prevalent on the reef, and general fishing debris formed the largest percentage of all debris found. Plastic beverage bottles and aluminum cans were found throughout the region, while cigarette filters, straws, and plastic food wrappers were only found at Blue Heron Bridge.

Beyond helping rid the ocean of harmful trash, divers had a great time getting out on the water and meeting new dive buddies. Some were even surprised with spectacular and valuable marine debris finds, including a GoPro camera, designer sunglasses, and cold hard cash – although in this case it was soggy and wet – but still good!

Many thanks to all of the participating divers as well as RJ Dive Center, South Florida Diving Headquarters, Force-E, American Dream Dive Charters, Jupiter Dive Center, Narcosis Dive Charters, Dolphin Sun Dive Charters, and Pura Vida Divers for joining in the 4th Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup, and again to Pura Vida Divers for also hosting the event at Blue Heron Bridge.

Divers interested in joining the effort to rid our reefs of harmful debris can help year-round by picking up trash on every dive. Significant accumulations of marine debris or large debris items that cannot be removed safely can be reported at www.SEAFAN.net or 1-866-770-SEFL. Divers can also sign up with one of the dive boats participating in the 5th Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup. Like us on Facebook (Florida’s Coral Program) or join our mailing list to be updated as dates and locations are selected.



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