TAMPA, Fla. — There's only one real way to get to the thousands of Garparilla beads that have sunken to the bottom of the Seddon Channel, and that's by hand.
- Thousands of beads end up in Seddon Channel
- Volunteers dove and collected beads by hand
- Beads are either reused, or burnt if broken
A few dozen volunteers gathered at Marjory Park Marina on Sunday to suit up and dive into the water. Their goal was to collect part of the estimated 225,000 pounds of Gasparilla beads that made their way into the bay during the annual boat parade.
Despite the sun and warm temperatures, divers had to dig for beads through very mucky water.
“You look to your right and left and you can’t see anything," said Eric Lax.
The beads that were pulled from the water by these dive teams were sorted into two piles. The beads that were still intact will be donated and repurposed for years to come. The beads that are broken or full of algea will be disposed of.
"They're going to be burned, so it doesn't end up in a landfill. If it's in a landfill, it could potentially end up back in our water and back in the environment," said Jessica Biggs with the Florida Aquarium.
Florida Aquarium held a bead collection event during the Gasparilla activities that took in beads in return for discounts on admission to the aquarium, as part of an effort to keep beads out of Tampa Bay.