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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Scuba Dogs recruiting team captains for International Coastal Cleanup

By The Star Staff

The organization that coordinates the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) in Puerto Rico, the Scuba Dogs Society (SDS), announced Monday the start of the process of recruiting captains for the event to be held on Saturday, Sept. 16 and that this year seeks to impact all 78 municipalities.

SDS Executive Director Karem Pérez González noted that from 2008 to 2021 the event’s organizers have achieved the participation of many coastal municipalities and the support of some inland towns, but the organization has set out to change the conception that many people have about what constitutes the coast. Springs, streams, rivers, lagoons and reservoirs are also part of the coast, as are the beach and estuaries, they said.

“Everything that happens in our rivers eventually impacts the beaches,” Pérez González said. “This year we want to motivate people from all towns so that we can have cleanups at inland water bodies and on beaches. We urge the mayors of the 78 municipalities, especially those in central Puerto Rico, to join the Scuba Dogs Society in the International Coastal Cleanup.”

Pérez González said that like any international event, there are required processes, beginning with the registration of coastal captains, who are the people who direct the efforts. At that stage, the places where the cleanups will be held throughout Puerto Rico are also identified and, later, registration will be opened for volunteers.

On International Coastal Cleanup Day, all trash removed is documented through Clean Swell, a mobile app that makes it easy to count solid waste and total weight. Once the data is submitted, it joins that of more than 100 countries that participate in the event each year.

“It would be ideal for mayors, businesses and other organizations to select their captains and identify a cleanup site in their respective towns, participate in registration and create their team of volunteers,” Pérez González said.

Marine biologist Sandra Schleier Hernández, who serves as SDS program coordinator, said the recruitment they are focusing on at this stage is for new captains or those who have not yet confirmed a section of coast. Captains can select a coastline from the list identified by the organization, but SDS also is inviting them to propose new cleanup areas, as it recognizes there are many neglected areas such as trails, rivers, streams and reservoirs. Likewise, Schleier Hernández said she wants to have the collaboration of nonprofit entities, student groups, churches and companies, along with outdoor recreation on the day of the event.

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