Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Divers Not Seeking Treasure, but Trash

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Divers Not Seeking Treasure, but Trash

Article excerpt

COASTAL CLEANUP: Annual volunteer effort along the world's shores is Saturday

SARASOTA COUNTY -- From the shoreline to the gulf floor, scuba diver Greg Vine has removed a smorgasbord of discarded and jettisoned junk from local coastlines over the years.

Fishing lines, whiskey bottles, golf balls, even a .22-caliber revolver -- that one he turned over to police -- the list of waste retrieved by Vine is as long as it is varied. But all of the items he's collected share an underlying principle: each were polluting the environment.

"It's not only disgusting," Vine said of the rubbish. "But the wildlife has to live with our mess."

It's for that reason that he and other members of the Nokomis- based Suncoast Reef Rovers scuba diving club have been cleaning Service Club Park in Venice for more than 15 years. On Saturday morning, the Suncoast Reef Rovers will scour the shoreline once again during the Ocean Conservancy's 2014 International Coastal Cleanup.

They won't be alone.

More than 2,000 volunteers are expected to clean up local beaches across Sarasota County from 8 a.m. to noon, said Wendi Crisp, program coordinator for Keep Sarasota County Beautiful. The popular event, going for more than 20 years, reached its capacity of volunteers earlier this week.

Crisp said the high turnout was due to area residents' strong sense of community and connection their local ecosystems.

"People take ownership," she said. "They say 'This is where I live. This is my beach. This is my park.' I have some groups that come every year and go clean the same area."

Among the volunteers will be about 800 students from elementary, middle and high schools.

Participants will rid the beaches of trash including bottles, cans, plastic six pack rings and discarded fishing line and nets, as well as other pieces of garbage.

"They're on a trash hunt basically," Crisp said. …

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