To help launch this year’s post-Gasparilla Diver cleanup, The Florida Aquarium, Green Gasparilla, Calypso Dive and NAUI divers did their part in keeping our shorelines healthy by diving into the waters around Davis Islands for an underwater cleanup. Over 20 divers donned their wetsuits and air tanks on Saturday to remove beads from Tampa Bay following the annual Gasparilla celebration in Tampa.
The Aquarium and partners successfully retrieved 38 pounds of beads out of the Bay during the underwater cleanup, and 310 pounds of litter and beads by land. The participants spent two hours scouring the depths of the water for any beads and waste that could be degrading the ecosystem. This year was the third time that the Aquarium has participated in the cleanup with the aim to remove plastic beads from the Bay.
“The Aquarium sees the immense importance of these dive cleanups. While most beads from Gasparilla can be recovered at land cleanups following the event, beads do unfortunately end up in the water and need to be removed,” says Chris Tomlinson, Florida Aquarium Diver. “If beads stay in the water for too long, they can release chemicals into our waters, animals can eat them, or they can break down into harmful micro-plastics. In order to keep our animals healthy in Tampa Bay, the beads must be removed. Participating in these types of cleanups is a perfect way for people to get involved in their local community while tackling this important issue.”
The Aquarium has been a part of many cleanups following Gasparilla. The Aquarium and Port Tampa Bay joined Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s 10th Annual After Gasparilla Cleanup, which removed 4,700 pounds of litter and collected over 30,000 beads across Tampa Bay. The Aquarium also collected beads for its Keep Beads out of the Bay initiative, which resulted in the collection of over 2,300 pounds of beads from parade-goers. The Aquarium is proud to participate in these initiatives and more including Mayor Jane Castor’s Bead-Free Bay campaign, calling parade-goers not to throw beads into the Bay. The Aquarium is optimistic about the implantation of the Mayor’s initiative that we will see fewer beads in our waters following the parade.
About The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium actively participates in and promotes stewardship of the natural environment as part of our mission of conservation. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Florida Aquarium provides an opportunity to see over 8,000 aquatic and terrestrial animals, explore complex ecosystems, look for wild dolphins in Tampa Bay, play at the Splash Pad and more! Ranked #2 Aquarium in North America in a recent USA TODAY’S 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the aquarium is more than a must-see attraction, The Florida Aquarium is working to protect and restore our blue planet on many conservation fronts, including research and rescue efforts that help restore Florida’s sea turtle and coral populations and to ensure that sharks continue to swim our seas. In August of 2019, The Florida Aquarium, in partnership with Project Coral, became the first to successfully spawn critically endangered pillar coral in a laboratory. To learn more, follow us on social media at @floridaaquarium and visit www.flaquarium.org.
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