Caneel Bay Resort’s Patagon Dive Center volunteers made sure the underwater area near the resort was not forgotten on Earth Day.
The reefs and sea floor near Caneel Bay Resort are cleaner this week thanks to volunteer scuba divers who removed trash from the underwater areas on Earth Day, Monday, April 22.
This is the fourth year in a row Caneel Bay Resort’s Patagon Dive Center owner Arnoldo Falcoff has hosted an Earth Day underwater cleanup. Thanks to support from both the Caneel Bay Resort staff and Falcoff’s staff, the annual Earth Day dive has become an anticipated tradition.
“What we do is pass the word around and Caneel has been great too by offering hotel guests who volunteer a rebate on their room rates,” said Falcoff. “Also a lot of the Caneel employees and our dive employees come out every year to help with the clean up as well.”
Diving in waters around Caneel Bay, the volunteers were able to remove items like plastic bags, fishing line and more from the sensitive marine area.
“We find plastic in the forms of bags and cups and spoons,” said Falcoff. “And then we find a lot of fishing line and also a lot of broken bottles and things that fall off the dock or off boats in the water. We also see some metal objects as well.”
With sea turtles often spotted in the area, the plastic bags Falcoff and the divers removed will make a big impact, the dive shop owner explained.
“The plastic is really the big problem because the sea turtles in particular like to feed on jellyfish and the bags look like jellyfish,” he said. “It’s not good for them to eat that.”
In addition to removing trash from the waters around Caneel, Falcoff and the volunteer divers were also on alert for the invasive lionfish, he explained.
“This year we extended our cleanup to include lionfish, so we scoured the area and looked for them,” said the Patagon Dive Shop owner. “We didn’t find any that day, but we look for them on every dive. They seem to be concentrating on some reefs more than others and we’re not sure why.”
“Every time we see lionfish on one of our dives, we kill them,” said Falcoff.
What Falcoff and his volunteers don’t remove during their Earth Day dive or any dive are items which have marine growth on them, he added.
“Once there is marine growth on a metal object or something, that kind of has developed its own ecosystem so we don’t touch that,” said Falcoff.
Because this year’s underwater clean up did not attract the number of volunteers Falcoff has seen in the past, the dive shop owner has extended the Earth Day festivities this year.
“I guess we didn’t get the word out as well as we had hoped this year so we’ve extended the cleanup to other days,” said Falcoff. “When we have a chance, we’ll continue to clean the area. We’re making Earth Day every day at Patagon Dive Center.”
For more information on the Patagon Dive Center, call 776-6111, ext. 7290.