The Blue Heron Bridge, also known as Phil Foster Park, has to be one of my fav shore dive sites. It is located in Riviera Beach, Florida. It features an “Underwater Snorkeling Trail” that is perfect for non-divers and the diving there is spectacular considering the max depth is around 15ft. The area is full of marine life including seahorses, octopus, pipefish, sea robins, batfish, flying guards, stargazers, and nudibranchs of over 100 different species.
One of the cool things about this site is easy access. Grab your gear, check the tides, and head out. You want to dive this site at a slack tide for the best conditions. The current can get very strong under the bridges and can pull you right into the boat channel quickly in between slack tides.
There are some small wrecks toward the Singer Island side near the east bridge and an underwater shopping cart graveyard of sorts amongst other notable sites.
There are also showers, a bath house, plenty of parking, and a lifeguard stand under the bridge as well.
I have had the opportunity to dive this site several times during a few trips to Florida and I always see some new creatures. I also always find debris to remove coming from roadside litter and boating debris washing over from other areas and also coming from folks tossing items over the bridge. It can be a bit frustrating, but also motivating so I always bring my trusty Project AWARE dive agains debris bag.
For underwater cleanups, I like to make sure the dive shop that I rent my tanks from have recycling stations. This way if the location I am cleaning up does not have recycling, I can drop debris when I drop my tank.
Tricks to an underwater cleanup include:
1. Bringing a mesh bag (Project AWARE also has great mesh bags and also bio bags for underwater cleanups),
2. Bring a knife to cut line (I’ve recently been an entanglement victim and it is not fun, but with a knife is not as scary as it sounds),
3. Focus on non-biodegradable items such as plastics, if you pickup glass bottles make sure there are no creatures living in or on them – if so leave it – glass is just silca (sand) – it’ll be okay right where it is,
4. Stay buoyant – don’t let your bag drag the ocean floor – you could damage reef, etc.,
5. Finish the dive when you cannot keep buoyant with the bag,
6. Have fun – don’t just focus on trash, check out the wildlife – that’s what diving is all about,
7. Report your findings using the Marine Debris Tracker App and Project AWARE- be sure to track as close to the site as possible – if you are on a boat – track before you leave the site, if you are at a shore dive – track at the shoreline – Think Surface Interval Fun!
8. Tell the local dive shop about your findings. This is super important. If there is a large amount of debris that you couldn’t get to, they might be encouraged to do their own underwater cleanup event with a larger crew. Be sure to tell them about Project AWARE, although I am sure they will already know since you did your research on eco-friendly and conservation conscience dive shops,
9. Blog about it, share pics and stories on FB, Twitter, and other social media outlets to encourage others.
10. Report your photos and data with the North Carolina Marine Debris Symposium (NCMDS) folks (even if it is out of State) here by emailing RidTheSeaOfMarineDebris@gmail.com and use the Marine Debris Tracker App if you are doing shoreline cleanups.