NAUI’s Green Diver Initiative is in the midst of planning a big diver clean-up event of the downtown Tampa, Florida harbor and channel waterways next year.
As part of that effort, NAUI’s GDI, along with the Center for Open Exploration (C4OE) conducted a scientific survey of Tampa harbor on Friday, May 27.
The survey was in preparation for a diver clean-up event focused on the impact Gasparilla Festival waste, specifically plastic party beads and trinkets, have on waterways. The official clean-up project will take place April 22-28, 2017.
The Gasparilla Festival is one of the largest attended events in the Tampa Bay region. Each year, thousands of party beads/necklaces and other plastic trinkets are exchanged by parade participants and the public. These exchanges occur on both land and water, with many items never making it to their intended targets. Instead, they find their way to the ground, storm drains and in the harbor waters.
This has lead GDI and C4OE to ask the question:
“How do these lost festival related plastics impact our marine ecosystem?”
With cooperation from local law enforcement authorities, GDI and C4OE conducted a survey, by boat, of the Tampa harbor. By using underwater cameras and other tools, the team investigated the amount of festival related plastics and other related debris in the harbor. Data was also collected to determine the water quality, currents and clarity to determine if a Green Diver clean-up event is viable in that area.
GDI Manager Sam Richardson said:
“Our overall goals are to raise awareness in the community about the negative impact plastic waste, specifically the trinkets thrown during the Gasparilla Festival, has on our local waterways and to help provide safe and fun alternatives.”