Volunteer divers to search for trash in Newport Beach Harbor

Newport Harbor Underwater Cleanup’s inaugural event is scheduled for June 3.

NEWPORT BEACH ― If you are out on the water or taking a stroll around Newport Beach Harbor on the first Saturday morning of June, you may notice some public docks closed with scuba divers submerged in the water. What these divers will be uncovering remains to be seen, but they will surely find plenty of items littering the sea floor.

Newport Harbor Underwater Cleanup is scheduled for June 3.  The organizers, Billy Dutton and Mark Ward, are expanding their monthly Help Your Harbor program by incorporating an annual underwater cleanup.

Dutton and Ward hope to have a significant turnout of certified scuba divers as well as dockside volunteers in a collective conservation effort.

“This is the first ever volunteer-based underwater cleanup in Newport Harbor,” Dutton said. “We are looking for about 100 to 200 volunteers – both certified scuba divers and above water volunteers. We need just as many people above water for safety [and assistance] as we do below water.”

Help Your Harbor began more than three years ago following Dutton’s and Ward’s “Electric Surf Safari.” The Log reported on the 348-mile open water expedition these two surfers did aboard a solar and electric powered Duffy back in 2012. Dutton and Ward collected water and plastic pollution samples for Heal the Bay. The experience prompted them to initiate organized efforts to clean their local harbor.

Volunteers for Help Your Harbor meet at one of two locations (Newport Aquatic Center or Southwind Kayak) every first Saturday of the month and paddle around Newport Beach Back Bay and Newport Harbor in kayaks provided for these events to remove trash.

Help Your Harbor volunteers have collected over 21,000 pounds of trash over the past 38 months, according to Dutton.

“We’ve found everything from television sets to mattresses that float down the San Diego Creek, we believe. We’ve found drug paraphernalia. One year, we found 187 tennis balls,” Dutton said.

Help Your Harbor encompasses the organizations and the volunteers that have come together for the same cause.

The organizations currently sponsoring Newport Harbor Underwater Cleanup are City of Newport Beach, Duffy America’s Electric Boat, Balboa Bay Club, Newport – Irvine Rotary Club, Surfrider Foundation, Seas the Day Scuba, Hobie Surf Shop, Body Glove, Newport Beach & Co., Mastro’s Ocean Club, k-line & Company as well as Caroline’s Cause Corner.

Balboa Bay Club, one of the original sponsors of the Help Your Harbor program, has graciously offered their facility for volunteers to check-in on June 3 starting at 7 a.m. There will also be an after party at this location for all the volunteers.

Duffy America’s Electric Boat is providing the boats being utilized for Newport Harbor Underwater Cleanup to deploy cleanup crews to various locations in the harbor.

Divers will be in the water and other volunteers will be on designated docks from 9 to 11 a.m.

Following the cleanup efforts, a post-event party will be held at the Balboa Bay Club with food, refreshments and live music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Marshall “Duffy” Duffield is the emcee for the event.

Exhibitors from other organizations involved in protecting the marine ecosystem will also be at the June 3 event, according to Ward.

Coordinated underwater cleanup endeavors have been happening in Avalon for the past 36 years and in Dana Point for 12 years, according to Dutton.

Operation Clean Sweep in Santa Barbara also has volunteers diving and dockside in an effort to eliminate garbage on an annual basis for the past 11 years.

“We hope [Newport Harbor Underwater Cleanup] will be a success and an annual event,” Dutton stated.

For those interested in helping by volunteering or sponsoring in the cleanup efforts for Newport Beach Harbor, register online at nhunderwatercleanup.com.

Eric Pike photo



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