Tag Archives: reef cleanup

Resort Tells Blacktip Guests To “Fling Your Phones”

phone throwing

Mobile phones of all shapes and sizes will go flying Sunday afternoon in Eagle Ray Cove’s ‘Fling Your Phone’ contest, aimed at getting resort guests to disconnect from work while on vacation. (photo courtesy of Marina DeLow)

In an effort to help newly-arrived guests embrace their vacations, a Blacktip Island resort will launch a new, weekly ‘Fling Your Phone’ cellular telephone throwing contest Sunday afternoon at Diddley’s Landing public pier.

“People fly in here Saturdays so uptight they can’t even enjoy their free drink at the bar,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “Every one swears they’ll turn their phone off, and none of them ever do.

“Then last week a woman on the dock snatched the phone out of her husband’s hand and threw it as far as she could,” Skerritt said. “It was beautiful. With that arm, if she didn’t play third base, she should’ve.”

Resort staff hit on the idea of getting as many guests as possible to get rid of their phones.

“We got a lot of lukewarm smiles until we pitched it as a competition,” said divemaster and contest organizer Marina DeLow. “Then guests were fighting to see who would throw first. The ‘I Had A Fling on Blacktip Island’ t-shirt prizes help, too.

“We have separate categories for phones, tablets and laptops, and we’re thinking of adding a flip-phone category, too, for our older guests,” DeLow said. “Throwing styles are different for each. Phones you can throw overhand, but tablets fly better with a Frisbee toss. For laptops, a spinning, discus-style throw seems to work best.”

Many resort guests are grateful for Sunday’s Fling.

“I’ve been practicing with phone-sized rocks all day,” Eagle Ray Cove guest Theresa Troute said. “I know I can’t trust myself to not call work. My husband’s just as bad.

“We popped out our SIMs as soon as we got here, so we won’t lose our data,” Troute said. “Come Sunday, our phones are going flying. Thanks to the Fling, we’ll finally have a proper vacation”

Local scuba instructors will act as judges and supervise reef cleanup after the event.

“We put down ski rope transect lines across the reef so we can accurately measure where each device lands,” Eagle Ray Divers ops manager Ger Latner said. “The official distance is where the phone settles on the bottom, not where it hits the water.

“More importantly, we’ll use the grid to collect all the phones afterwards so no toxic chemicals or heavy metals will leach out onto the reef,” Latner said. “We’ve combined the cleanup with a search and recovery specialty course for our guests. As soon as the Fling’s finished, we’ll put the students in the water and have them swim search patterns until they find all the devices. For a reduced fee, of course.”

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Divers Scour Blacktip Island Reefs To Save Lead Weights

reef-cleanup

Some of the lead scuba diving weights retrieved Friday from Blacktip Island’s Pinnacle Reef by volunteer cleanup divers. (photo courtesy of Finn Kiick)

Blacktip Island environmentalists Friday launched a schedule for weekly volunteer reef cleanups aimed at ridding the Caribbean island’s dive sites of lead scuba weights.

“December starts high season for dropped weights,” cleanup organizer Ham Pilchard said. “Resort divers tend to be heavy anyway, and when the water temps dip, they squeeze into their thick wetsuits and grab a ton of weights.

“There’s lead dropping all over the reef, crashing coral and leeching poison into everything down there,” Pilchard said. “Integrated weight pockets? Try ‘weight dispensing units.’ We get divers whacked by falling lead at least once a week.”

The initiative given a boost by island dive operations complaining about a shortage of weights for their guests.

“Coral gets damaged, sure, but it got to the point where we didn’t have enough lead to get all our divers underwater,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “People can’t dive, we have to refund their money.

“The Marine Parks folks couldn’t keep up with all those sunken weights,” Latner said. “Then Ham had the idea of making a game of it and things really took off.”

Blacktip Island dive operations let weight collectors dive free on their dive boats.

“We give ‘em a mesh sack and a lift bag and let ‘em go to town,” Club Scuba Doo dive chief Finn Kiick said. “We can count it as a Search and Recovery dive for an Advanced or specialty card, too. Plus, we pay a 10-cent-per-pound bounty.

“The hot dive sites are the most target rich,” Kiick said. “You find other stuff, too. Cameras. Knives. Wedding rings. Gold teeth. Glass eyes. We return what we can to the owners. What they can’t return gets sold at resort gift shops. Or online.”

The cleanups’ profit motive has drawn sharp criticism from some.

“Put all the lipstick on it you want, these people are scavengers,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort guest Buddy Brunnez said. “They’re selling stuff that isn’t theirs after, at best, a half-assed search for the owners. How hard do you really think they’re looking for who lost a gold ring?”

Industry professionals were quick to defend the sales.

“Ten cents a pound doesn’t really turn many heads,” Latner said. “But add the incentive of being able to make some real money through an online auction? Our boats are full, and so are our weight bins. Is that legal? That’s the divers’ concern – we get our weights back.

“We have one of our instructors working up a Weight Retrieval Diver distinctive specialty course, too,” Latner said. “Four dives, and bring back at least 50 pounds of lead, and the card’s yours. People are lining up to take it.”

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