NAUI and C4OE Combine Research and Conservation Efforts in the Gasp – Our Beads of Tampa Bay Coastal Clean-Up Project

The NAUI Green Diver Initiative (GDI), in partnership with the Center for Open Exploration (C4OE), has been awarded a Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) grant to fund a surveying and coastal clean-up project (Gasp–Our Beads of Tampa Bay) in partnership with the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge during the week of April 22, 2017. The Gasp–Our Beads of Tampa Bay event will be held Sunday, April 23 beginning at 9:30 am.

C4OE began partnering with GDI several months ago when a brief conversation sparked an idea and generated questions about how the impact of plastic party beads and trinkets linked to Tampa’s Gasparilla Festival, one of the largest events in the Tampa Bay region, might impact coastal waterways.

“We are proud to call Hillsborough County home and look forward to continuing to build collaborations within our community,” said NAUI Executive Director Dallas Edmiston. “We hope our project will inspire other NAUI Green Divers to form partnerships in their region.”

Back in May 2016, with cooperation from the Tampa Port Authority, Tampa Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard and other authorities, GDI and C4OE conducted a survey, by boat, of the Tampa harbor. By using underwater cameras and other research tools, the team investigated the amount of festival-related plastics and similar debris found at different sampling sites in the harbor. Data were collected to assess water quality parameters, including currents and clarity, to determine if a Green Diver clean-up event was viable at the selected sites.

The survey was in preparation for a diver clean-up event focusing on the impact Gasparilla Festival waste, specifically plastic party beads and trinkets, have on waterways. The official clean-up project will take place Sunday, April 23 beginning at 9:30am, in association with the Hillsborough Water and Soil Conservation Department’s Hillsborough 100 campaign.

“We are delighted to have the NAUI Green Diver Initiative and Center for Ocean Exploration as partners. The uniqueness and goals of their Gasp–Our Beads clean-up project aligns perfectly with what we hope to accomplish with other Hillsborough 100 Earth Week events, in which we want to promote conservation, outreach and education efforts related to the health of our coastal waters,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District.

A special thanks to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) for their generous support. To find out more about the TBEP Mini Grant program, go to http://www.tbep.org/bay_mini-grants.html.

To learn more about this collaboration and get involved in the Gasp–Our Beads of Tampa Bay surveying and clean-up event, visit www.nauigreendiver.org or email greendiverinitiative@naui.org.

Volunteer divers, kayakers and vessels that can hold up to four divers and one topside captain/overseer are especially needed.

You can also connect with us on social media: Facebook and Twitter @C4OE_Explorer and @NAUIGreenDiver.

Support this exciting project by making a U.S. tax-deductible donation today!

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NAUI

Founded in 1960, NAUI Worldwide is the scuba industry's largest not-for-profit agency whose purpose is to enable people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education, and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world's underwater environments. As a pioneer in diving education, NAUI has developed many of the programs and concepts accepted throughout the diving industry. NAUI: The Definition of Diving!

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