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Taking out the trash checked off Earth Day list of chores for divers in Commencement Bay

Some of the barnacle-encrusted bottles hauled up from the seabed off Ruston Way in Tacoma Saturday by volunteer SCUBA divers.
Some of the barnacle-encrusted bottles hauled up from the seabed off Ruston Way in Tacoma Saturday by volunteer SCUBA divers. MaST Center

If there was a message in all the glass bottles divers brought up from the waters off Tacoma’s waterfront Saturday it might be this: Stop using Puget Sound as a garbage dump.

The volunteer scuba divers divers brought up 47 pounds of garbage from the waters of Commencement Bay just off of Ruston Way. Most of that consisted of bottles.

They also retrieved discarded fishing lines and hooks from the area near Les Davis Pier.

The cleanup was organized by the Marine Science and Technology Center at Highline Community College.

The underwater housecleaning is just the latest for MaST. Previous cleanups have removed hundreds of pounds of debris from the waters off Des Moines.

The Earth Day-timed clean-up had a benefit above the waterline as well.

“Quite a few people walking along Ruston Way stopped to discuss what was being done and learned about the impact of trash,” said Rus Higley, a Highline instructor and MaST manager.

“Removing marine debris is important for the safety of marine life,” Higley said. “Fishing gear is especially dangerous to marine mammals and seabirds which get tangled in the line.”

Fishermen, Higley said, have appreciated past cleanups because removing debris reduces snags and the resulting lost fishing gear.

In 2010, a gray whale died in the waters off West Seattle. Its stomach contained numerous kinds of human-made trash.

A team from MaST articulated its skeleton and it now hangs at the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Divers associated with the Washington Scuba Alliance volunteered for the event.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor
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