OKALOOSA ISLAND, Fla. (WKRG) — A total of 98 divers took to Gulf waters Saturday, Aug. 27 for the annual Okaloosa Island Pier clean-up dive. Certified scuba divers worked to remove hundreds of pounds of trash and fishing debris from the pier pilings and sandy floor.
The Okaloosa County Coastal Resouce team and county organizations gathered to conduct the clean-up both on the beach and in the water.
“You know this is a fishing pier there are lots of people that are fishing here every single day. Hundreds and hundreds every day. So what we do is, you know, sometimes the fish will break the line and then that line ends up in the water. So with that happening, you know, like every day it’s not always the greatest for our environment,” said Coastal Resource Co-ordinator Jessica Valek.
Each diver brought their own gear and bags to load with trash. Okaloosa County collected a list of the most unique finds for the 2022 clean-up.
- Fishing gear (fishing line, lures, rods, reels)
- Plastic bottles
- Beer cans
- Plastic bait containers
Staff said a security camera housing with a coconut stuck in it as well as a large spotlight made for the strangest treasures.
“So what we do is we gather a bunch of divers, local divers from you know, the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area, but we also are inviting people from North East, South and West every which way. We come out here and we actually try to remove some of that fishing line and any of the other trash that might end up in the water,” said Jessica Valek.
The staff intends to continue this event annually. The August event was a postponed date from the original clean-up dive planned for earlier this summer.
“This is definitely the biggest turnout that we have ever had,” said Valek. “This is very, very exciting.”