Reel Time: Cleanup celebrates World Ocean Day

Reel Time: Cleanup celebrates World Ocean Day
Volunteers help clean Sarasota Bay both above and below the water. - Rusty Chinnis | Sun

Sarasota Bay Watch and ninety-one community volunteers from Sarasota and Manatee County conducted their annual New Pass underwater cleanup Saturday, June 8, at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota.

Thirty divers, a dozen kayakers and paddle boarders, and Girl Scout Troup 9 from Phillippi Shores Elementary assisted. The Girl Scouts helped rescue stone crabs, fish, shrimp, a sea horse and assorted mollusks from the collected debris, gleefully releasing them back into the pass. The City of Sarasota provided two police boats to help assure the divers’ safety.

Reel Time New Pass cleanup
Volunteers inventory debris collected by divers. – Rusty Chinnis | Sun

Other partners who helped make the event possible include Scuba Quest, Aqua Lung, the Reef Rovers, Aqua Ventures, Jet Ski Siesta LLC, police department and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.

Student volunteers earned 48 service hours and helped the other team members collect and recycle almost 300 pounds of derelict fishing tackle and cast nets. When all the debris was totaled and weighed, the effort removed almost 800 pounds of debris from Bay waters.

The event was held in conjunction with World Ocean Day.

Sarasota Bay Watch is part of a marine debris reduction group that works in conjunction with NOAA to bring awareness to the unseen threat to marine life and health.

The debris breakdown included a wide array of objects, including the following:

Derelict fishing gear: nets, lead from nets, bait bucket, four fishing poles, three fishing reels, 157 feet of rope and two bait nets.

Miscellaneous finds: 10 feet of boat rail, a pair of channel locks, two beach balls, two bike tires, a spark plug, sunglasses, four knives, a cellphone in a case with a driver’s license and credit cards, a gas cap and a pipe.

Other entangling debris: 210 feet of electrical wiring, 27 feet of PVC poles, metal cylinders, a window from a boat and a box cutter.

Live animals freed from debris: Four stone crabs, 65 crabs, a mussel, a clam, four fish, one shrimp, eight jellyfish and 17 corals.

Dead animals: Four fish and two crabs.

Ronda Ryan, SBW’s event coordinator, would like to thank all volunteers and encourage other interested community members to check SBW’s website for upcoming events.

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