Portugal-based marine-conservation charity Oceanum Liberandum hopes to host 700 scuba divers in the world's biggest-ever underwater clean-up event on 24 September. The participants will be focusing on litter-picking in the Atlantic waters off Sesimbra, south of Lisbon.
Training agency PADI is helping to muster the divers required and, with watch manufacturer Seiko Prospex, is among the sponsors of the potentially record-setting effort. The charity had originally planned it for 2019, although the Covid pandemic had put the attempt on hold until now.
The event, set to take place during PADI AWARE Week, requires the divers to clean the seabed along the coastline for a solid 12 hours. Individuals and dive-centres from the region are expected to form the core of participants, although volunteers from elsewhere are said to be welcome.
If the target is met, the scuba divers’ combined effort will mark the largest number ever recorded as taking part in a single consecutive underwater clean-up. In June 2019, 633 divers at Deerfield Beach, Florida set a Guinness world record, in an effort also supported by PADI and PADI AWARE. They picked up more than 9,000 individual pieces of debris and 1,450kg of fishing gear.
As with that event, marine debris collected off Sesimbra will be logged into PADI’s Dive Against Debris database. “Our database is the world’s largest in terms of capturing seafloor debris data, which has already helped drive two pioneering scientific papers being used to create new waste-management policies,” said PADI Worldwide corporate social responsibility specialist Emma Daffurn,
“More than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our ocean by 2025 and the environmental damage caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at $13 billion US a year.
“This world record attempt further highlights the important role divers play in reporting, removing and advocating to stop marine debris at its source.”
Prospective volunteers can learn more and sign up with Oceanum Liberandum. A 15-euro registration fee goes towards supporting dive-centres providing boats, facilities and air.