Divers organize underwater cleanup

NANAIMO: Tires and beer bottles don't belong on the ocean floor and a group of divers aim to help.

Tires and beer bottles don’t belong on the ocean floor and a group of Nanaimo divers aim to help.

The inaugural Nanaimo Underwater Clean-Up happens Sunday (Oct. 14) at Stones Marina and Boatyard from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Organizers hope to get about 50 volunteers, both divers and non-divers, to bring up and sort the junk found on the ocean floor, said Xander France, a member of the Nanaimo Underwater Cleanup Committee.

He said underwater cleanups have occurred in other years, organized by different dive shops in town, but  Nanaimo Dive Outfitters, Sundown Diving and Sink or Swim Scuba are all sponsoring this one, and the committee plans to make it an annual event.

Free air fills and discounts on gear rentals are available for participants.

The cleanup will focus on the floor at the marina and in front of Muddy Waters Pub.

A quick dive in the area turned up numerous tires, mugs, a giant umbrella, a small boat and lots of small items to be picked up Sunday, said France.

Divers will take net bags, fill them with the garbage and bring it to the surface for ground volunteers to sort through. For the bigger items, the divers will use rope systems or lift bags that fill with air to help bring items to the surface.

“It’s exciting for the divers to give back and pull all of this stuff out of the water,” said France. “They get to find interesting things. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

The trash will be collected in two dumpsters and then weighed. Some people have volunteered their trucks to transport items that can be recycled.

The event ends with a barbecue and prize giveaways to thank volunteers for their time.

France said the committee has collected numerous prizes to give out, including a round trip flight for one to Vancouver donated by Harbour Air, equipment and apparel from all the dive shops and gift certificates to different restaurants.

People are asked to bring any goody bags, lift bags, wheelbarrows or other gear that would benefit this initiative.

For more information, please e-mail xander-france@hotmail.com.

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