Bermuda freediver sorting through collected marine trash after a dive.

Bermudian Diver hauls up over 2,000 pounds of marine trash

Free diver and ocean activist Karen Plianthos has extracted 2,142 pounds or nearly 1 tonne of marine trash from Bermuda’s waters during a summer clean-up campaign.

Plianthos, a hunter of the invasive lionfish who can hold her breath for 2 minutes and dive up to 60 feet, brought in the trash from some 25 dives in locations across the island since June.

This year’s haul brings her total to 12,600 pounds, or 5.7 tonnes, in five years of dives.

Most of the trash was glass, mostly beer bottles, followed by discarded metal and plastic, which are harmful to marine wildlife such as Bermuda’s Green Turtles. 

Among the most original discoveries were an Octopus Trap from West Africa found at Queen’s Cove Beach and a Gold Spotted Eel that wriggled out of a PVC tube at Devonshire Bay.

“There is nothing better than removing things from the ocean that seriously do not belong there,” said Plianthos.

In one instance, she found a crab trapped inside a discarded soda can that had grown too big to crawl out of the mouth and released it. She also freed two conchs entangled in the fishing line.

Plianthos was helped by her mother, Louise Jones, who skippers their boat “Seaweed,” and about 10 other volunteers, including her two daughters, Grace and Ophelia, who cleaned bottles and the shorelines for debris.

After each dive, the team wore Kevlar gloves for protection to clean the waste using screwdrivers. 

Instead of adding to the collected trash, Plianthos uses discarded beer boxes and onion sacks to deliver the waste to Mill’s Creek, where it is weighed and sorted for later recycling or incineration.

“I am mentally plagued by the fact that we live in a horrifically polluted world and our oceans. To be in the ocean heals me, and I think it is my way of healing the ocean as a form of reciprocation – even if it’s just a small one,” she said.

Plianthos first began the annual diving campaign called “Cash Trash Bash” in 2015 to fund a close friend’s bachelorette party. 

Today, the 40-year-old estate agent raises money for Bermuda-based charity Waterstart, which runs ocean education programmes and Wildlife Friendly Otley devoted to protecting British wildlife.

“This campaign gives me a feeling of hope that I can bring awareness to others and education as well – just how much our actions of tossing a bottle into the sea can affect things,” she said.

Her efforts won her Best of Bermuda award in 2018 in the “Community Activist” category.

 You can sponsor her here: GoFundMe

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