Another of the estimated 50,000 Guinness World Records has been broken and it happened this month when 633 scuba divers scooped up trash from the ocean floor near the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier.
Guinness adjudicator Michael Empric made a rare trip from New York City to do the official head count between 9 am and 11 am. “I actually stood there and clicked off everyone as they got in the water,” he said sporting the dark blue Guinness blazer and teal tie in 87-degree heat. Divers entered the ocean in waves and had to stay in the water at least 15 minutes to be counted.
Dahlia Bolin, 13, was among them. She and her mother Rebecca came all the way from Mackinaw, Illinois, to help set the record, and pick up debris. She recovered a white, metal sign with red lettering that warned: Boats Must Not Come Within 100 Yards of Pier.
“It was at the end of the pier about 20 feet down, just kind of buried in the sand,” she said. “There’s a lot of heavy weights for fishing line down there, but there’s some really beautiful fish, mostly.”
It was not known at the time exactly how much trash was collected, but diver and environmentalist RJ Harper, who helped recruit divers for the event, reported that the divers recovered 1,600 pounds of lead fishing weights alone, the result of years of anglers cutting bait.
“All those times the line gets caught, you just never really think about it,” Harper said. “Obviously, trash was collected, but the beauty of it is with 633 divers, we were able to do a very thorough cleaning.” Harper said he hopes the cleanup will inspire participants to hold cleanup events in the waters near their homes. “I have 600 new friends just as a result of this,” he said.
Not everyone at the beach was attempting to break a record. Karina Corradine was enjoying the sun and surf with her family while watching hundreds of scuba-suited swimmers trudge across the sand and bob in the water. “I hope that they reach their goal,” she said. “I used to dive in Brazil but I’m not certified so I can’t do this.”
Dixie Divers owner and cleanup organizer Arlington Pavan had his doubts about breaking the record. “You never know. It’s a big number, a big number,” he said. “It’s hard to do it.”
Anyone can go to the GuinnessWorldRecords.com website and open an application but they must supply evidence that a particular record has been broken and it may take months to verify. “Today, I’m the official eyes and ears of Guinness World Records on the ground,” said Empric. “So we know immediately whether or not the record’s been broken.”
And they did.
Empric announced the record 633 to a chorus of cheers followed by Pavan spraying the crowd with champagne. “Oh, it’s amazing to see everybody here, happy, just amazing,” said Pavan. “The last record took 24 hours and we did it in two hours, so it’s amazing.”
The previous record for the most divers taking part in an underwater cleanup was held by Ahmed Gabr, a former Egyptian Army scuba diver, with a team of 614 divers in the Red Sea in Egypt in 2015.
“It doesn’t matter what happens today with the Guinness World Records,” said Empric. “What really matters is that everyone is out there cleaning up around the pier and trying to improve the community.”