AVALON — Divers and volunteers are gearing up for the 34th annual Avalon Underwater Cleanup dive scheduled for Feb. 21, marking the only time of the year divers are allowed to explore Avalon Harbor.
While divers enjoy the chance to explore new territory, they also relish the opportunity to clean up marine debris left in the harbor. Last year, 2.5 tons of trash were recovered from the harbor.
First started in the 1970s, the dive has become an annual get-together for many divers, with some years seeing more than 500 volunteers participating in the event.
Many dive clubs also have made this event one of their premier social events of the year, and numerous parties are scheduled in Avalon on both Friday and Saturday nights.
A T-shirt design contest is held each year to create a logo and design for the event. The 2015 winner is Eric Fitzpatrick.
Proceeds from the Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup benefit the University of Southern California Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, a 24-hour emergency recompression facility on Catalina Island that serves thousands of divers; and, the Catalina Conservancy’s Robert R. Given Fund for Ocean Conservation and Educational Outreach.
After the cleanup, divers and volunteers will gather at Avalon’s Wrigley Stage, where an awards ceremony will be held. Prizes will be presented to divers who bring in the most unusual items found underwater.
Registration is available online at catalinaconservancy.org. The cost is $50 per diver, $25 per non-diver. For groups over 10, contact Spencer Campbell at (562) 437-8555, ext. 224.
To be eligible to dive in the Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup, participants must be trained scuba divers certified by any national agency recognized by the Recreational Scuba Training Council.
For more information, visit www.Catalinaconservancy.org.