Underwater Clean Up Service!
Last Sunday I got the chance to do a super cool dive. Along with a few friends, I participated in an underwater beach clean up. Have you ever helped to pick up trash in a park? This was the same idea, but underwater, trash is hidden from our view. The depth and visibility of the ocean make trash invisible—and in some places, the ocean is just another garbage dump for people to discard unwanted things. The problem is, everything has to go somewhere! Even if we don’t want an old plastic bottle anymore, it doesn’t just magically disappear. Too often, these items end up in the ocean, intentionally or unintentionally. We don’t know what we’re harming when bottles, fishing lures, and other garbage settle on the bottom of the ocean floor.
We were in Long Island at Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays, Long Island. There is a new bridge and an old bridge over Shinnecock Bay. The old bridge is part of a drawbridge no longer used. It has become a very exciting marine sanctuary for all kinds of ocean life.
Current and low visibility can make this a challenging dive, but it’s also a very shallow dive, less than fifteen feet. Some of you have probably been in a swimming pool almost that deep! But here’s where it gets cool. Last Sunday, on the surface, there were some tiny waves bobbing. The tide was coming in. I watched the water move toward me. Although I knew it was a shallow dive, I couldn’t see anything under the water at all. The ocean floor was a mystery. What could possibly be down there? I was surprised at how much exciting life was right beneath the surface. After I jumped in from a rocking dock bumping up and down from the gentle waves, I followed a sloping sandy bottom.
The first creatures to greet me were some angry spider crabs with raised claws looking to scare me away (I wasn’t really scared, but they were sending a message that they wanted to be left alone)! We saw a pipefish, tons of spider crabs, green crabs, Ocellate Lady crabs, and lots of other fish. Everywhere I looked, there were all kinds of crabs scuttling along the bottom, moving to and fro, following invisible tracks along the sand. There were so many crabs moving so quickly, it looked like a crabby highway!
Our real purpose, however, was to pick up garbage. We were part of a huge team of about 50 divers all scouring the bottom to pick up garbage. First, we got busy with our dive knives because we found several crabs caught in fishing line. We helped them out by cutting them free. Soon, they were off to join the spider crab highway on new adventures!
We followed a rock wall out a little deeper (and found a neat lobster hiding in a hole!). Along the way, we collected bottles, cans, lots of fishing line, and long strips of white plastic. We even saw an old traffic cone. We didn’t remove this, however, because mussels and clams have already made their home there and we didn’t want to disturb them.
The end of the dive was where things got really amazing. We were in about 5 feet of water (that’s pretty shallow), but still at the bottom. Here, we saw a horseshoe crab, a flounder, a live scallop, and a hermit crab!
After our dive, I took pictures of the trash we collected. This is one of three collection bags our team filled.
And here is all of the tangled fishing line we found. We cut it up before throwing it out so it wouldn’t get tangled again.
We were pretty excited that we got to clean up the underwater world and make it nicer and safer for all of the creatures who live there (and visit! Just like us!)!