There’s been a lot of talk recently about the debris that washes up on our shores, but what about the debris that sits on the bottom of our beloved nearshore environments? This past week I had the pleasure of joining John El-Koury of Coastal Realty and Eric Billips of Islamorada Dive Center and a crew of dedicated volunteers as they headed offshore to free the reefs of debris. Over the course of 4 dives we collected 6 anchors, hundreds of feet of rope and the remnants of old fish traps (Probably Irma casualties). This was the fourth trip out to the reef for these guys and their collection is building fast. They’ve also found an old grill, 250 feet of anchor chain and even one of the buoys that used to mark the wreck of The Eagle. It’s not easy work, but man is it ever rewarding.

Bottom debris is destructive to our reefs and if left on the bottom will eventually strangle and transform them into something we’d all probably dislike very much. So next time you’re snorkeling or diving, keep an eye out for the stuff, try and pick it up if you can or mark it so you can tell someone else who’d better fit at recovering it. Also, mind your anchors and try to anchor only in the sand. Photos.IAN WILSON / Keys Weekly

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