Keeping the waters and shoreline along Lauderdale-By-The-Sea clean and free of harmful debris and garbage is a passion for Steve Gagas of Gold Coast Scuba and Lisa Miceli of Stoked on Salt. They’re joining forces this year for the SOS Beach Clean Up and pier clean-up on April 25 at Anglin’s Pier.
It’s just a few days after Earth Day so the absolute perfect time for this eco-conscious effort. The beaches in the town are why locals live here and tourists visit so keeping them spotless is essential.
Steve Gagas came up with the idea a few years back after becoming familiar with other pier clean-ups and knowing that Anglin’s Pier could benefit from a thorough cleaning. He immediately contacted the pier manager Tommy Argue for permission to organize a clean-up.
“The first year was very difficult, we winged it. It was quite a process. About 12 of us gathered trash off the bottom, put it on kayaks, brought it to the beach then hauled it to the store and separated it,” said Steve.
The clean-up efforts have gotten easier over the years and more people have become involved, like Lisa who is organizing her beach clean-up to coincide with Steve’s pier efforts.
A Lauderdale-By-The-Sea native, Lisa’s been coming to the beach since she was an infant and her passion rests with protecting the artificial reef they’ve been working on for two years. She also strives to educate teenagers and families on the importance of protecting the reef, pier and shoreline.
“We want to make it safe for families and kids that come and play here. I take video and photos to show our clean-up efforts,” Lisa said. Her publicity efforts have worked with around 500 volunteers showing up to her clean-up events.
She makes the clean-ups fun, giving away t-shirts, goodie bags and prizes and encouraging the teens to spread the word across all social media channels. “This cross-promotion is how other teens and families learn how to get involved,” she said.
And because Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is such a tight-knit and supportive town, the goody bags are filled with items donated by local area businesses who are more than happy to help out with the cause.
Steve Gagas now has clearance from the pier manager to set up clean-ups as often as he likes. They happen quarterly and are set up about a month in advance. He still gets a charge out of the dives they do during clean-up efforts which he knows benefit the environment.
“The dive is exciting because not only are we cleaning up the reef but we’re saving the critters that are wrapped up in fishing line,” he said. “Many times while doing the clean up we have found nurse sharks alive but wrapped up in fishing line. We carefully cut them away and set them free, managing to save a couple of nurse sharks this way.”
The clean-up starts bright and early at 8 a.m. and goes until 10 a.m. If you’re interested in volunteering contact either Gold Coast Scuba at 954-616-5909 or Stoked on Salt at 754-246-4848.