Cleaning up ocean trash should always be celebrated — but a few hundred scuba divers deserve a major celebration for their recent trash cleanup. As local Florida news outlet The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported, 633 scuba divers collected several thousand pounds of trash from the ocean floor on Saturday, June 15, breaking the Guinness World Record for the world's Largest Underwater Cleanup.
At 9 a.m. on Saturday, a group of scuba divers organized by local organizations Dixie Divers and Deerfield Beach Women's Club headed to the ocean floor off of Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida, CNN reported. Guinness adjudicator Michael Empiric flew down from New York City to stand watch and monitor the record-breaking dive. Empiric clicked off each person by hand as they entered the water, and made sure that each diver stayed underwater for at least 15 minutes, which was the minimum time required, The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
"What I love about this record is that even if they don't break the Guinness World Records title, they're gonna make a huge difference in the community by cleaning up the pier, cleaning up the underwater world, which is what all these divers really are here for," Empiric told The South Florida Sun Sentinel in a video interview on the beach, while the divers were still hard at work underwater.
Empiric makes an important point — there's no way to lose at a trash cleanup, because good is still being done for the ocean, sea animals, and for the planet. But luckily for the Deerfield Beach divers, they smashed the record due to having 19 more people than the previous record holder.
Once each diver had returned to the beach, Empiric addressed the divers, explaining that the previous record was set in 2015 in Egypt's Red Sea, with a group of 614 divers. "I can now announce that today, in Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.A. — you had 633!" Empiric told the crowd, to emphatic cheers, as seen in Dixie Divers' video.
With 633 people spending 15 minutes each picking up trash from the sea floor, that's the equivalent of someone picking up ocean trash for 6.5 days straight — so it's safe to say that a lot of trash was recovered. The team is still in the process of counting and weighing everything, but according to CNN, ocean protection group Project AWARE estimates that the divers collected up to 3,200 pounds of trash. And according to a video chronicling the cleanup made by the organization Be the Sealution, most of the trash collected was abandoned fishing gear, like nets, lines, and hooks.
That's not too much of a surprise, considering the fact that fishing nets makes up 46 percent of plastic in the Great Pacific garbage patch, with other fishing gear making up the majority of the rest of the ocean's plastic, according to a study published in the journal Natures.
If you have a beach trip coming up, consider doing your part and picking up whatever trash you find — and in the meantime, click here for our best tips on protecting the ocean, even if you're nowhere near a beach.