Debris collectors took to the shoreline and beneath the ocean depths for the first marine debris cleanup tournament on Sept. 18. Thirty-eight participants registered for the By Land and Sea Marine Debris Cleanup Tournament in Islamorada and removed 9,138 pounds of garbage. 

Teams competed in three divisions that included land, on the water and underwater. First-place winners were team Rosebacher, collecting 2,890 pounds of debris on land, team Raffles for collecting 1,145 pounds on the water and team Rumbaugh/Fryman for collecting 255 pounds underwater. Each team received $1,000. 

Second-place finishers from Islamorada Dive Center donated their $500 prize back to event creator and nonprofit Shoreline Restoration Services owner Audrina Ennis.

“I was shocked and grateful,” she said. “I had such a great time speaking with people and hearing how they had a fun day picking up trash.”

Festivities were held at the Postcard Inn’s Bimini Row. The Wild Bird Center and the Turtle Hospital were in attendance to provide information on their programs and the effects of debris on the animals they care for. Islamorada Village Manager Greg Oravec served as weighmaster for the first marine debris competition. 

“He realized the need for more muscle to move the debris and jumped right in getting dirty and helped lift the debris into the rolloff that was donated by Waste Management,” Ennis said. “The village of Islamorada was a great supporter and helped me promote the event.”

An idea to bring a cleanup competition to the Keys formulated more than a year ago when Ennis saw a Facebook post by State Attorney Dennis Ward of a “Plastic Fishing Tournament” in Mexico sponsored by Corona. Ennis, who founded Shoreline Restoration Services in 2015, formulated a committee alongside Ward to get a local event off the ground. 

Visit srstournaments.org for more information. 

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Jim McCarthy believes in community reporting, giving back and life on the water. A workout fanatic, diver and a bogey-golfer, Jim loves chicken wings, Marvel movies and sports.