Ocean Fest Hosts Largest U/W Cleanup of All Time

By Bill Gleason

Every September, an unusual and unique event takes place. For the last 14 years, the third weekend of September has been the target date for the largest international beach cleanup in the world. Several years ago, the diving world got involved and helped (through the efforts of volunteers, PADI and the Center for Marine Conservation) make this weekend the largest underwater cleanup of all time. Last year, more than 30,000 divers in all 50 states and in 84 countries combined their efforts to remove tons of trash. This September, we will again see thousands of divers hitting the water to get rid of the litter and trash that damage the underwater world!

This year, we can add another unique event! The sponsors of Ocean Fest, a weekend diving event held in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, have enlisted the services of more than 20 Florida based dive operators to host the Largest U/W Cleanup of All Time. They hope to enlist thousands of divers in their campaign and have designed an event that just might become one of the most exciting things to hit the diving highway in some time!

Ocean Fest will take place September 19, 20 and 21 in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It will be a giant open air festival featuring more than 75 different diving and snorkeling exhibits under giant tents. But don't think that this is just another dive show. What sets Ocean Fest apart is that you will be able to go diving. More than 20 charter boat operators and numerous private boats will be offering dive services at the events. In addition, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea also has great shore diving, so getting a dive in will be as easy as walking to the beach. Divers and snorkelers can participate in an underwater Treasure Hunt on Saturday and the Largest Underwater Cleanup of All Time on Sunday.

Dive manufacturers and retailers will have demo equipment on hand for divers to try out and there will be ongoing equipment seminars and how-to classes on everything from underwater photography to advanced; balanced; buoyancy control. The technical dive community will also be there in force, giving divers the opportunity to learn about nitrox, trimix and rebreather diving options!

In addition to the Treasure Hunt, cleanup and other events for divers, there will be snorkeling and learn-to-dive sessions. The event will cater to divers, snorkelers and their families. Don't miss the food and entertainment centers, they are set to be rocking all weekend long! If that's not enough to entice you to dive at Ocean Fest this September, there's also more than $30,000 in prizes slated to be given away!

The Sunday cleanup will be conducted from dive charter vessels, private boats and from shore. Divers and snorkelers will scour nearby areas to remove as much trash as possible. Since regularly visited dive sites are usually cleaned on a ongoing basis by divemasters and divers, special trash sites have been selected that will give participants plenty of opportunities to fill their goodie bags with as much trash as they can handle!

The Ocean Fest Largest U/W Cleanup of All Time is co-sponsored by PADI, the Center for Marine Conservation, DEMA and SKIN DIVER. Any divers interested in participating in the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Largest U/W Cleanup of All Time only have to show up at the event and secure a spot on a boat to get involved in this great activity. Divers in other parts of the U.S. or around the world seeking information on other cleanup events should call the CMC cleanup hotline at (800) CMC-BEACH or (804) 851-4183.

Ocean Fest is cosponsored by the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Chamber of Commerce and Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures. For information regarding the festival, call (800) 327-8150 or (954) 462-3400. SKIN DIVER will be there in full force, so if you'd like to go diving with us, and maybe pick up some trash or get rid of some monofilament, just put it on your calendar: The third weekend in September, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea; be there!

The Largest U/W Cleanup of All Time is just one of the many opportunities to get wet, have fun and win some great prizes at Ocean Fest '97.