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Record 633 divers pick up a ton of trash from ocean floor in Florida

2019-06-17

Divers enter the water in an attempt to break the world record for the largest underwater cleanup at the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Saturday, June 15, 2019. The record was broken with 633 divers taking part in the record breaking dive. Guinness World Records adjudicator Michael Empric counted divers as they entered the water. (Mike Stocker/AP)

There were 1,600 pounds of lead sinkers alone. And that isn’t even what set a Guinness world record.

The waters off the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida are up to 3,200 pounds cleaner after a record 633 divers spent just two hours scouring the ocean floor for trash.

That’s one and a half tons, and then some, said organizer and participant Tyler Bourgoine.

At least 1,600 pounds of that were lead fishing weights, diver RJ Harper, who also helped recruit divers, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"There were countless lead sinkers,” Bourgoine told CNN. “Everything from a boat ladder to a barbell.”

All this was accomplished in about two hours, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, CNN reported. It was the 15th time such a cleanup has been done on this beach but the first time it had set a record.

The previous record had been set four years earlier, in 2015, the organizers said on Facebook, when Ahmed Gabr oversaw 614 divers collecting trash from the floor of the Red Sea off Egypt.

Last year’s annual cleanup pulled up 1,000 pounds of lead weights, 52 pounds of wood, 161 pounds of fishing line, 104 pounds of metal and 102 pounds of miscellaneous debris for a total of 1,465 pounds of material, the organizers said. And a whopping 219 miles of fishing line was removed from the pier’s pilings, they said.

This year there were more divers, and more trash. The haul also included 60 pounds of fishing line, CNN reported, though they did not convert that into miles.

As of Sunday, a certified 1,626 pounds of trash had been removed, but the count was still under way and could grow. Bourgoine estimated the poundage could be as much as 3,200. A ton is 2,000 pounds.

The record was not in the amount of trash, impressive as it was, but in the number of divers. Michael Empric, an official Guinness World Records Judge, was on hand personally to count the divers as they went into the water, the Sun-Sentinel reported. They had to stay in for at least 15 minutes to be counted, the newspaper said.

Once the official head count was finished and the previous record was certifiedly upended, out came the champagne, courtesy of Arlington Pavan, owner of dive shop Dixie Divers, and one of the organizers.

“It’s amazing to see everybody here, happy, just amazing,” Pavan told the Sun-Sentinel. “The last record took 24 hours, and we did it in two hours, so it’s amazing.”