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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 11:08 am | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

‘Operation Clean Sweep’ Extracts the Junk Sunk on the Floor of Santa Barbara Harbor

Volunteers dive to the bottom of the harbor’s Marina 4 to clear out debris that includes window frames, hoses and even a discarded toilet

A volunteer rolls away a wheelbarrow full of junk hauled up from the seafloor around the Santa Barbara marina’s “A” finger Saturday morning. Click to view larger
A volunteer rolls away a wheelbarrow full of junk hauled up from the seafloor around the Santa Barbara marina’s “A” finger Saturday morning. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Roads have street sweepers, parks have grounds crews, and the Santa Barbara Harbor has a team of volunteer divers.

The harbor might not strike one as a public space in need of the upkeep that the city’s streets and parks require, but through its first nine clean-ups, “Operation Clean Sweep” has turned up 16 tons of debris and junk from the seabed.

Saturday’s 10th-annual sweep added wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to that total.

Dozens of volunteers turned up to help extract mounds of rubbish from the bottom of Marina 4, a group of docks in the harbor’s northwest section.

Diving among the slips — the boats’ “parking spots” — along the marina’s “A” and “B” fingers — the long docks lined with the slips — divers dredged up hoses, window frames, brooms, and even a porcelain toilet at depths of 10 to 20 feet.

Around 25 dock volunteers carted off the junk for disposal in a MarBorg Industries container onshore. Previous sweeps have discovered phones, boat propellers, barbecues and even bicycles.

Divers talk with dock volunteers before heading into the water. Click to view larger
Divers talk with dock volunteers before heading into the water. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Amid doughnuts, Starbucks coffee and liability waivers, volunteers started the morning with a briefing outside the Harbormaster’s office on how to safely help out, before heading out onto the docks for the rest of the morning.

The city’s Waterfront Department partnered with the Santa Barbara Maritime MuseumSanta Barbara Channelkeeper, Surfrider Foundation, harbor diving businesses and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the sweep, which attracted numerous members of the community.

About a dozen divers combed the harbor floor, handing up what they found to volunteers on the docks, who loaded the junk into wheelbarrows and pushed them up to the disposal container.

Prior to the sweep, a quick survey of the harbor floor revealed where much of the largest debris sat and provided a roadmap of sorts for the divers. Heavier items like the toilet were secured with rope and required two or three volunteers to be heaved out of the water.

This year marks the beginning of a second circumnavigation of the harbor; it took the previous nine years for the program to scour the entire harbor.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Volunteers use a rope to help pull up a porcelain toilet. No one was sure how it might have ended up on the floor of the harbor. Click to view larger
Volunteers use a rope to help pull up a porcelain toilet. No one was sure how it might have ended up on the floor of the harbor. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
Some of the day’s haul. Click to view larger
Some of the day’s haul. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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