Puerto Rico’s Scuba Dogs Society coordinates Puerto Rico’s annual International Coastal Cleansing Day, a beach clean up event in which volunteers work together to remove garbage from the vulnerable coastlines of the world. This year, the event will take place on September 21st, and Scuba Dogs are still looking for volunteers.
The first group of volunteers needed are the Cleanup Captains. Organizers for 200 beaches are needed, and registration will open on August 31st at www.scubadogssociety.org.
With funding from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant in 2015, the Scuba Dogs led more than 600 volunteers in clean up efforts and educational programs. 2016 found Puerto Rico in the top 10 of participating areas, with 17,943 volunteers cleaning up 127,573 pounds of trash.
In 2017, Santander Puerto Rico joined them for a 200-person clean-up that collected 1,237 pounds of garbage (including 985 cigarette butts, 820 glass bottles and 634 straws), and information about the kinds of revenue found on the beach which is home to Puerto Rico’s largest sea turtles. In 2018, more than 11,000 volunteers collected over 128,000 pounds of debris.
Numbers like these are exciting, but also sad — it means that hundreds of thousands of pounds of debris are being washed up on Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches.
Scuba Dogs also monitors 15 Puerto Rico beaches for microplastics. Microplastics are plastic beads, fibers, or filaments that are small enough to make it into the food chain as fish and birds eat them. This affects human health as well as the health of the ocean as a while. Scuba Dogs are working to compile needed information on the scope of this problem in Puerto Rico.
International Coastal Cleansing Day began 30 years ago in Texas and has grown to a global event bringing together 6 million volunteers in 90 countries across the world. If you live in a state along the coast, you can participate in your local area, too.