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Volunteers dive down to keep Santa Barbara Harbor clean

Santa Barbara Harbor Operation Clean Sweep
Chris Bell/SB Waterfront
A team of volunteer divers removed junk from beneath the Santa Barbara Harbor this morning.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The seafloor in any busy harbor may be littered with lost or discarded junk, impacting the environment just like litter on land.

Santa Barbara Harbor’s Operation Clean Sweep, a seafloor debris cleanup program, is the team hoping to change that. They held their 13th annual cleanup event on Sunday.

During the process, a team of volunteer divers, supported by 40 or so volunteer dock workers, will remove junk from beneath the California Urchin Divers Association dock, Fish Float North and the City Pier. 

Clean Sweep said the divers pull out the trash while dock volunteers cart it off for disposal.

The event began at 8 a.m. with a briefing on the Travel Lift Pier beneath the Harbormaster’s Office, complete with free coffee and donuts. It then finished up with a hearty box lunch at 11:30 a.m.

During past cleanup events, Clean Sweep said volunteers removed over 20 tons of debris from the Santa Barbara Harbor.

Items retrieved over the past years include bicycles, barbeques, plastic barrels and boat propellers as well as wire cages, outboard engines, phones, computers and the occasional marine battery.

The City of Santa Barbara’s Waterfront Department joined volunteers from NOAA, SB Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, SB Sail and Power Squadron, Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute, and harbor dive businesses in this effort.

New to the event this year will be a neighborhood cleanup co-event. Slip permittees will be able to drop off large bulky trash items and e-waste, for free, at two locations in the harbor. And, since the beach is part of the harbor neighborhood, there will also be a beach cleanup of West Beach.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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