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Zen and the Art of Underwater Cleanup



By Katie McWilliams. Photos courtesy of Zen Dive Co.

Team Zen

The Avalon Underwater Cleanup has a rich history of uniting the diving community in the name of conservation and environmental awareness. When presented with the opportunity to participate in our first large community event and see everyone together for the first time in too long, the team at Zen Dive Co. jumped in with both feet. The goal for the event was to enjoy making memories while building community. We could not have been more excited about the weekend we had planned! Team Zen had registered 22 participants with 18 in attendance, and we dove from Step Beach.

The morning leading up to the event was a flurry of activity. There was organizing paperwork, shuttling gear to Step Beach, and ensuring everyone had everything they needed to fully enjoy the morning dive. Amidst the hustle and bustle, there were numerous moments I felt the need to pause and really look around. The sky was clear blue, and the sun was warm and welcoming as it rose over calm, blue waters. Most striking was seeing the community alive and well, with friends— new and old—smiling and laughing together.

Conditions could not have been better. Visibility was approximately 6-8 m/20-25 ft, and the water was calm and clear. The beautiful conditions served as a reminder of why we opted to participate. California has one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. While the waters are cold, they provide a home to endless beautiful features. As divers, we have a unique relationship with the ocean. We take the opportunity to become a part, though temporary, of the aquatic realm. We feel at home there. The aquatic realm is resilient, standing up to storms and various other natural threats. Sadly, it is not impervious to the side effects of modern living. In cleaning up the harbor, divers found a myriad of trash including bottles, cans, and food wrappers.

Volunteers collected more than 1.5 tons of trash!

It is heartening to see the diving community come together to advocate for our home away from home. With over 500 participating divers, this year’s event was the largest ever! It is encouraging to see a growing number of people taking proactive steps to be part of the solution to the problem that is trash in the ocean. As the diving community continues to grow, it is exciting to share annual events such as the Avalon Underwater Cleanup. Team Zen is thrilled to have participated in this event and having been part of the solution. We look forward to making more memories and cleaning up the harbor again next year.

Find us at: Zen Dive Co

Dive Deeper:

Catalina Islander: Harbor Cleanup collects 5,000 pounds of trash


Project Divers Are We

Diving projects aka expeditions—think Bill Stone’s Wakulla Springs 1987 project, or the original explorations of the Woodville Karst Plain’s Project (WKPP)—helped give birth to technical diving….




Header image: Divers positioning a decompression habitat during a recent GUE Project Diver core module. Photo by SJ Alice Bennett, courtesy of GUE.

Diving projects, or expeditions—think Bill Stone’s Wakulla Springs 1987 project, or the original explorations of the Woodville Karst Plain’s Project (WKPP)—helped give birth to technical diving, and today continue as an important focal point and organizing principle for communities like Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). The organization this year unveiled a new Project Diver program, intended to elevate “community-led project dives to an entirely new level of sophistication.” Here, authors Guy Shockey and Francesco Cameli discuss the power of projects and take us behind the scenes of the new program.

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