Volunteers dive for trash, but come up with 'treasure' during St. Lawrence River cleanup
Over 24 hours, organizers hope to haul two tonnes of debris out of the river
It's amazing the kinds of things that end up at the bottom of the St. Lawrence River.
"Oh we do find all kinds of stuff. It ranges from some pottery, cameras, bicycles, tires..." said Nathalie Lasselin, the underwater explorer and filmmaker who organized a 24-hour cleanup of the river on Saturday.
"We found gates. We found bottles — different kinds of plastics. It's amazing: all that stuff that is pretty much everywhere in the streets, and with the wind, goes straight into the river," added Jonathan Théorêt, another volunteer.
These two, along with dozens of others, spent the day clad in scuba gear making multiple dives down to the riverbed near Lachine to clear debris from the water.
"For me, it's like being a child. I just go down, and I see that as treasure, but bad treasure to be removed. So, each time you remove something, you always look for the next one you can find," said Lasselin.
This isn't the first time she's undertaken such a project.
"We did a cleanup last year, and we spent something like five, six hours. And we removed 750 pounds of debris."
For her, it's an important way she can help keep her environment clean.
"This is my tap water," she said. "So that means, basically, what I can do today is to remove all the debris, all the plastic debris that can eventually go into tiny, tiny particles, and go into my water."
Dozens of volunteers spent the day in scuba gear on Saturday, diving down to clear debris from the St. Lawrence River off Lachine. Here's a sampling of what they found down there. <a href="https://t.co/iDA7s0gLWZ">pic.twitter.com/iDA7s0gLWZ</a>—@CBCMontreal
It's not just garbage that Lasselin and the others have pulled from the river.
"I did find a longboard. And you know what is amazing? ... Someone is looking for that longboard!"
She said Théorêt spoke to the owner of that very longboard earlier, with the young man telling them the story of how he lost his board in the water three years ago and hasn't seen it since.
They've already been in touch to return the man's board, though it's not in pristine condition.
By the end of the 24 hours, organizers hope to be able to say they've hauled two tonnes of debris out of the river.
With files from CBC's Matt D'Amours