CLEARWATER, Fla. - Your help is needed to clean up the reefs here in Tampa Bay.
It's the second Reef Monitoring event this year, and this time a local aquarium is lending a hand so that other marine life aren't injured just like one very famous dolphin.
It's a picturesque view we sometimes take for granted. Underneath the blue waters are materials that can harm marine life. "It's accumulated lots of debris on the bottom, particularly things like crab traps and monofilament from fisherman," says Heyward Mathews with Reef Monitoring.
He says on Saturday, June 23, more than 100 volunteer divers will head to the Clearwater Artificial Reef to remove those items.
"The traps themselves aren't the hazard, but the rope they're tied to can entangle turtles, diving birds, dolphins, and other marine life. So the idea is to remove those materials that have accumulated on the bottom and put them in a dumpster so they no longer endanger marine life."
Mathews says what they need to get the job done are boats to take out the divers. "We're looking to find people to volunteer to spend a Saturday morning until noon, to put in and take divers out there so we can collect debris and put it in the dumpster."
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is getting involved in the event because of what happened to Winter the dolphin. "Winter the dolphin is a very well-known animal we have here, and she was actually caught in a crab trap rope," says David Yates, CEO of Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
In fact, several animals at the aquarium have been injured by monofilament and crab rope. But the popularity of Winter's story helps raise awareness of how dangerous these hazards can be.
"Winter should not be here, except for a man-made issue, so if we can use her story and exactly what happened to her and go out and drive awareness to this issue, not just here but around the world, we think that's a good thing," says Yates, who adds it's also part of the aquarium's mission to preserve the marine environment.
"We all need to take responsibility in any way we can and this is an easy way to help."
Winter's Reef Clean-up, as it's called this year, is on Saturday, June 23.
If you want to learn more about it and volunteer, we have information for you here: http://reefmonitoring.org/reefcleanup.html