Divers set world record for cleaning debris from ocean floor

Harry Cockburn

Over 600 scuba divers have set a world record for the largest mass subaquatic clean-up of a section of seabed.

Equipped with aqualungs, a total of 633 divers simultaneously picked up litter from the sea floor near the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida.

The record was overseen by Guinness officiator Michael Empric, who arrived from New York to do the official head count between 9am and 11am, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

“I actually stood there and clicked off everyone as they got in the water ... so we know immediately whether or not the record’s been broken,” he told the reporter, who described him as “sporting the dark blue Guinness blazer and teal tie in 87 degree heat (35C)”.

Divers entered the ocean in groups and had to stay in the water for at least 15 minutes to count towards the record.

Thirteen-year-old Dahlia Bolin travelled with her mother Rebecca all the way from Mackinaw, Illinois, to help set the record and pick up debris.

She recovered a white, metal sign with red lettering warning: “Boats Must Not Come Within 100 Yards of Pier.”

She told the paper: “It was at the end of the pier about 20 feet down, just kind of buried in the sand. There’s a lot of heavy weights for fishing line down there, but there’s some really beautiful fish, mostly.”

The amount of rubbish collected has not yet been measured, but according to the paper the divers retrieved 1,600 pounds (725kg) of lead fishing weights alone, the result of years of anglers cutting their lines free.

The previous record for the most divers taking part in an underwater cleanup was 614, in a dive organised by Ahmed Gabr, a former Egyptian Army scuba diver, who held the event in the Red Sea in Egypt in 2015.