Okaloosa Island pier is free of trash after nearly 50 divers volunteer for pick-up dive

Northwest Florida

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Whether you drive from Destin or Shalimar to fish at the Okaloosa Island Pier, scuba divers across the region spent part of their weekend cleaning the waters of trash and other debris.

The overall goal was to remove as much marine debris from the pier structure.

Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager for Okaloosa County

Alex Fogg with Okaloosa County says 49 divers met at the pier Sunday, September 26, including members of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) and the Divers Down Pollution Project (DDPP).

When the last team came out of the water with very little in their dive bags, that was good news! It meant we did a good job removing most of the debris.

Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager for Okaloosa County

More than 280 pounds of debris was removed from the pier. Most of the trash was monofilament, or fishing line, hooks and lead sinkers. By the end of the dive Sunday, DDPP says the pier was spotless.

“So Alex, the Gulfarium and everyone did an awesome job,” said Bobby Wagner with DDPP.

We ended up doing a detialed spot work on the end, we found a couple little things but it was amazing seeing the pilings cleared, all the plastic the reels the rods everything that we found down there, getting all of that out and then going back and seeing a completely clean pier from the bottom up was really cool.”

Bobby Wagner, Divers Down Pollution Project

On a more unique note, tires, sunglasses, a set of car keys, and a wedding ring were picked off the Gulf floor.

“It’s funny to see and to think of what falls over the side of the pier”

“All of it seemed very unintentional but I’m glad to get it out of the water and it was interesting to see how many things make it to the floor and the pilings of the pier.”

Bobby Wagner, Divers Down Pollution Project

Last month, another clean-up event was held at the pier. Wagner says they cleaned about a third of the trash that day, making this lastest event even smoother.

“This pier dive we kind of knew the logisticis going into it, we were able to really ask more people to show up since we had footage and photos of that first dive. It kind of really got a a buzz around the community.”

Bobby Wagner, Divers Down Pollution Project

Fogg says clean-up dives such as this happen once or twice a year. With the success of Sunday’s dive, the county hopes to maintain the cleanliness achieved and keep the pier spotless in the future.

Working with local businesses like the Gulfarium and Okaloosa Island Pier and community partners such as Keep Florida Beautiful to conduct the pier cleanup was a great example of how we can all work together to do good for our environment.

Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager for Okaloosa County

“Showing up to the beach was actually incredible. Seeing this movement now really take exponential growth, I was shocked to see how many divers came out.”

Bobby Wagner, Divers Down Pollution Project

See more in the video from OCSO below.

Find out more about DDPP and their movement by joining the Facebook group.

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