Only time scuba diving is allowed in Avalon Harbor
For the Islander
The Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup, one of the most popular scuba events in the state, will return for its 41st year on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s event will be hosted by Catalina Divers Supply.
More than 600 divers and about 100 volunteers regularly participate in the event, which is the only time scuba diving is allowed in Avalon Harbor. In addition to removing trash and debris, the day-long event will raise funds for the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber and improvements at the Casino Dive Park.
Over the years dozens of tons of trash have been removed from the marine environment, with an average of 3,000 pounds of debris removed at each cleanup.
For many years the cleanup was hosted and organized by USC’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. This year that torch has been passed to Catalina Divers Supply along with the Avalon Rotary Foundation.
“The Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup has done so much to improve the environment and bring divers together,” said Christy Lins, the owner of Catalina Divers Supply. “We knew we had to step up rather than see the event slip away after 40 years.”
The 2023 event will have a similar format to year’s past. Divers will enter the water starting at 7 a.m. to remove trash and debris. At 11 a.m. divers will have to be out of the water. An awards ceremony and prize raffle will be held in the early afternoon, with divers receiving prizes for a number of categories.
“As you would expect, divers find dozens of cellphones and sunglasses along with carelessly discarded cans, bottles and plastic bags,” Lins said. “But they have also found a surprising assortment of interesting items, like jewelry, toys and old tires.” Marine creatures such as octopus, crabs and urchins are regularly found entwined with the debris. “All the marine life is carefully returned to the ocean,” she said.
In addition to removing trash from the marine environment, the Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup has become an important source of funds for the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. Located at Two Harbors, the chamber is an essential life-saving medical facility for the treatment of diving accidents. This year, funds will also be dedicated to the ongoing campaign for comprehensive improvements to the Casino Dive Park. Planned improvements include rebuilding the wall and installing tables and chairs.
Early bird registration for scuba divers is $45. Registration for non-divers is $30. For more information visit www.AvalonHarborCleanup.org.
Catalina Divers Supply: Founded in 1960, Catalina Divers Supply is one of the oldest dive shops on the West Coast. In 2022, the PADI Five Star Dive Center moved into its new location in Avalon’s historic Catalina Casino. Dedicated to helping adventurers explore Catalina’s underwater world, the shop offers a full range of scuba classes, dive experiences and snorkeling tours as well as gear sales, rental and repair. Boat dives are available onboard the Scuba Cat. Catalina Divers Supply has been instrumental in the development and continued success of the Casino Point Dive Park, one of the most popular dive spots in North America. The company was honored as a PADI Project AWARE partner for its on-going commitment to marine conservation.