ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A small group of scuba divers gathered at Dive Alaska Monday to figure out what path lies ahead in the effort to clean up Smitty's Cove, a top-notch diving site in the middle of Whittier.
Fish swim over debris at Smitty's Cove. February 15, 2020.
The popular location has been trashed, not only with the remains of a boat that exploded last year, but other debris that's caused the area - well-known for its beauty both inside the water and out - to appear littered, taking away from all of the marine creatures and the amazing Alaskan habitat in which they live. The conditions have even made it dangerous for diving.
That's something Brandon Hunter wants to change as he and his partners look to reinvigorate the area with support from Project Baseline, an effort to get people to learn about threats to the environment, tailor their work to help curb that, and engage with their communities, too.
"Anything on a boat sometimes ends up in the water," Hunter said. "So in Smitty's Cove, there's all sorts of things: bicycles, marine batteries, chargers, power tools. Just, all sorts of things that used to be on a boat have ended up in the cove."
Hunter's team did a survey dive this past weekend, returning to land not only with some amazing video but also a laundry list of things to do. The plan now is to hold a major cleanup in a few weeks to get the spot scrubbed up deep down under the water.
"Our cleanup efforts are going to include taking out as much of that as we can," Hunter said. "We're putting several dozen divers in the water. Smaller things we can pick up, larger things - we'll try to get out of there what we can.
"We'll clean it up and get it back as close to natural and real world as possible," he said.
Smitty's Cove is considered a protected marine park with a rich history, including wreckage and industrial slag, NOAA reef installations, sunken cranes and planes, and vibrant marine life that thrive in the underwater habitat. More recently, however, the trash and recycling, boat waste and more has popped up all around the features that make the cove so great.
So, in late March, some 40 or so divers from around the state are already set to converge for a massive clean-up effort of trash and remnants of a boat that caught fire and exploded. The group will gather in Whittier for the massive clean-up effort, as the team works to remove trash and other debris that has collected in the area over the last few years.
For more background on Smitty's Cove and to get involved in the cleanup, click here.
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