Female Veterans Remove Over 3700 Pounds of Marine Debris from Biscayne National Park

Over 3700 pounds of marine debris was removed from park waters by all female team of WAVES Project divers in partnership with the National Park Service.

The week of June 20th, 2022, six female U.S. military veterans joined the National Park Service at Biscayne National Park for a week of removing marine debris from park waters. The team collected over 3,700 pounds of debris, including derelict lobster traps, fishing line, and plastic waste. 2022 is the second year this project has taken place, but the debris collected was 6 times greater this year.

Female veterans & NPS staff with a big haul of debris.

The veterans were sponsored by the National Park Foundation and Wounded American Veterans Experience SCUBA Project (WAVES Project), a 501c (3) non-profit established to provide opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities and their families to experience scuba diving. A veteran mentor from the Women Divers Hall of Fame also participated in the cleanup. The project was made possible through funding from the National Park Foundation, the official charitable partner of the National Park Service. The veterans were part of an all-female National Park Service and partner organization dive team, with staff members from the Submerged Resources Center and Biscayne National Park, as well as the University of Miami. The dive boat from Horizon Divers: Scuba Diving, Key Largo, FL was also crewed by an entirely female team.

Each of the WAVES Project divers has received training as part of the Mission Oriented Diving program. To qualify to take part, each diver must complete advanced training in the areas of deep diving, limited visibility diving, navigation, proper boat entry and exit techniques and have made at least 25 dives. This project required bringing large heavy objects up from the ocean floor so the women were trained in the use of “lift bags” and the physics involved. In addition to diving skills, the ability to work as a team and learning to rely on your dive buddy are essential aspects of the mission. The veterans came from California, Texas and Florida for the week-long project.

Diver place lift bags on abandoned concreate ballasts to lift them to surface.

At the end of the project, the message that came through loud and clear was expressed by Navy Veteran Charlamain Caycedo “It was an absolute honor to dive with all of you Wonderwomen! I will forever cherish our memories of this past week. You all inspire me to do more and I promise to change the world!”