It is clear that the beautiful waters that surround the incredible rock that is Catalina Island form the foundation of an incredibly natural ecosystem that rivals most in the world.
Catalina Island has been and remains an island paradise a short boat ride away for millions of visitors. Underwater Catalina is a world most of us will experience only from the surface, but the beauty of the sea is a vital link to the island’s inviting charm and elegance.
That so many people come to the island and pay for the privilege to dredge garbage off the bottom is indeed testament to Catalina’s unique culture.
As interesting, perhaps, is the garbage from ships traveling the massive Pacific Ocean, and local boats as well, that is collected.
Scouring the bottom to collect 1.5 tons of trash with only two hands and determination is not easy. Organizers know that, so they compile “Trash Awards” for the day to recognize divers and provide a bit of levity and an interesting overview for those of us who watch from the surface. Compiled and written by USC’s Lorraine Sadler, here she goes again with the 37th Annual Underwater Cleanup Trash Awards. You just never know what divers will find in Catalina underwater:
Clothing: It seems that we had little or no clothing that came up this year at least not any that was recorded! So the decision of the trash staff was that since the waders were the only submission we would go with that. Hopefully they must have gone wading with something more than waders!??? From the Green Pier, found by Mike Isaacs.
Electrical: It seems it was not the year for electrical items as well. A fan and circuit panel (hopefully not from the fan!) were found at Casino Point by Luke Ference.
Funniest: Catalina is not known for its cold weather or winter season. So it appears that someone wished for a white Christmas with a Can of Instant Snow! From Casino Point, found by Alex Wilson and Dana Hutson.
Household: It would be interesting to know how things get into the water here. An intact Catalina Island Yacht Club rolled up carpet found off of Step Beach by Patrick Morris.
Kitchen Related: “Bon Appetit”! A beautiful large blue and white Fish shaped serving dish brought up from the Step Beach site by Curtis Iwata.
Miscellaneous: We do get storms here especially when it comes from the NORTHEAST! The entire stern of a boat with the outboard motor mounts still attached was found off Step Beach by Greg and Nick Wolf.
Oldest: Bottles are not a rare find here but old bottles are especially sought after. A clear glass Tip A Tilton bottle distilled in San Pedro from the 1920s gets the nod this year. Is this where the saying “getting a bit Tipsy” comes from? Found at Green Pier by Ray Lockyard.
Perverted: Coming on the heels of the oldest bottle distilled spirits bottle comes these shredded purple panties actually found by the same diver, wonder what he was actually doing underwater! From the Green Pier, found by Ray Lockyard.
Smallest: They do say good things come in small packages, in this case maybe not the smallest such as a bead, so at about 2”, this small and finely detailed this British toy soldier takes the prize! Found at Step Beach by Roger Clark.
Sporting Goods: This has to be the height (or depth) of irony….Probably lost in one of our storms off one of vessels destroyed in the harbor…A scuba tank with regulator attached and overgrown with loads of marine life, found at Step Beach by Rich Shobert.
Valuable: Hard to argue with this one; a Fifty-dollar bill went overboard…. no telling if it was from someone pitched in the water trying to get aboard a shore boat or? Found at Green Pier by Scott Carmody.
Worthless: Well, not everything can be worth something…A 1968 Chevron Standard Oil Credit Card, definitely been down awhile……..found at Casino Point by Maria Arjona and Ben Blandina
The Most Spirited Dive Team: This year this goes to a group dedicated to making diving available to veterans with service related disabilities. The enthusiasm displayed and excitement with this team has for getting in the water is awesome! The W.A.V.E.S Project (Wounded American Veterans Experience SCUBA) Providing Wounded American Veterans and their families the opportunity to Experience SCUBA diving.
The Golden Flipper Award: Originally started as a tongue in cheek award to the goofiest thing that was done by someone during the cleanup, it is now awarded to someone who has given time or effort to the cleanup. He has donated many of his DVD.s, etc on marine life and related subjects for many years. This year the recipient is Dr. Bill Bushing.
The Ken Kurtis Silver Tongued Devil B.S. Award:
For the most applauded story told by a diver using the trash they brought up as props for the story. This year the scuba tank with regulator attached figured big — Rich Shobert had a mentor and buddy and he was trying a technology on ways to absorb/extract oxygen from the seawater directly into his bloodstream. Because the technology worked for the guy, while they were diving he left his tank and regulator on the bottom and took off!
The USC Wrigley Institute of Environmental Studies says “hope to “Sea” you all again next year for the 38th Annual Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup!