Cans, Bottles, and Swirling Sands

I made the mistake of starting to watch a new show (Chicago Justice if you are curious) and it is seriously cutting into my sleep schedule. So tonight, I decided instead of pretending to fold my laundry while watching, I would start blogging about SECONN’s recent event. We joined up with Save the Sound and the Ocean Conservancy for the International Coastal Cleanup. I’m not sure how many years SECONN has hosted an underwater portion to the global event, but this was my third year. The morning was overcast and gray, but the water was fairly calm. My goal was to find a bike (spoiler alert – I didn’t), I ended up finding lots of Twisted Tea cans, some glass bottles, some weird plastic/metal pieces, a Captain’s Daughter, and a skateboard. In about an hour, myself and seven other divers brought up almost 300 pieces of garbage (in an hour people! Think before you toss your garbage anywhere but a garbage can.). I’m convinced that the elusive bicycle was at the end of the pier, but there were people fishing and I didn’t really wanna get tangled up in someone’s line or get hooked!

This site is predominately made up of very, very fine silt or clay. You move your hand too close to the sediment floor or kick incorrectly and POOF there goes all visibility. So when you’re picking debris off the floor, you can bet that you might see something for a moment, but then it will be blanketed in swirling sands. I was one of the first into the water and definitely the first on the heading I took so visibility was okay for a little bit, maybe even three feet! haha. A few kicks from my point of descent and I stumbled upon a giant patch of aluminum cans. Two kicks later and I had filled both of my mesh bags. Most of this is done through just feeling about the floor, since that first can sent clouds of sand into my face. Aluminum cans feels something like stiff paper once they’ve been sitting under the water for any length of time. But your hand can’t miss the round shapes. Other than these cans, the floor is littered with halved mussel shells – your hand learns the difference very quickly! A whole seven minutes and I was back at the surface swapping out my bags for new ones. Once I’d swapped out, back to the depths I went. As this was my 3rd time doing this event at this site, I was prepared for the complete lack of visibility. Considering past years had ZERO visibility where everything was black and no light could penetrate, the swirling clouds of silt and sand wasn’t awful considering it still let some light in.

At one point, Pete and I teamed up and explored around the pier pylons…then I got distracted by a critter and lost him. I decided to head back out to look for more garbage (not much ends up actually under the pier…no one throws it down there haha); as I was clearing the last pylon, I spotted a skateboard! Like I mentioned before, it wasn’t a bicycle, but it was a good second place!

Photo by Mark Russell

This site gets a constant influx of manmade materials…unlike a beach where the garbage might get washed up and removed, it just gets stuck and swirls around the docks and seawalls. Yes, regardless of the amount of garbage, there was a HUGE amount of marine life. Between Blue Mussels, Slipper Shells, Scallops (with their beautiful blue eyes!), Scup, Black Sea Bass, and lots of other encrusting creatures. I hear there was a bunch of tiny flounders, but I didn’t find any…probably scared them all away while I was waving my hand across the sand in search of garbage.

Post-dive a bunch of us headed over to Captain Scott’s for end of the season seafood…then it was home for a much needed gear rinse and shower!

Photo by Peter Venoutsos


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