For many, Jamaica Pond and its paths offer the perfect setting for boating, jogging, and cycling.
But another element lies beneath its seemingly pristine waters: trash, in all manner of shapes and sizes. On Wednesday, the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, a Vermont-based environmental group, unearthed several items from the bottom, thanks to a remotely operated robot.
“It looks so beautiful out here, and it is,” said Rebecca Inver Moffa, the group’s science and education coordinator. “But beneath the water, there’s all this going on.”
Moffa referred to the items lying nearby on a dock, including a tire, vise-grip pliers, and lingerie that the robot dredged up. The robot was equipped with a camera and resembled a tiny speed boat.
As Moffa spoke, the group’s cofounder, Rachael Z. Miller, tracked the robot’s movements 25 feet underwater on a video monitor and steered it toward promising items with a joystick on a console.
‘Stuff that comes up from the bottom does not smell like roses.’
‘We’re both sailors, and we just got sick of it . . . sick of trash everywhere we went.’
At one point, Rozalia interns pulled up the robot, which hooks trash and can retrieve as much as 75 pounds at a time, and laid out tubing on the dock that might once have been attached to a vacuum cleaner. Like many of the objects pulled from the water, the tube had a ripe scent.
“Stuff that comes up from the bottom does not smell like roses,” Miller said.
VideoRay, the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of the robot, and other companies have donated the equipment Rozalia uses, the group said.
Rozalia conducts cleanup and research projects across North America and has removed about 75,000 pounds of trash from sites this summer, Miller said. She added that on Wednesday, the robot also spotted a sailboat at the bottom of Jamaica Pond, located in Jamaica Plain. The group told informed workers at the sailing pavilion, who planned to send in divers to help bring up the roughly 16-foot vessel.
Miller said she and her husband, James Lyne, launched Rozalia after a vacation on Matinicus Island in Maine in 2009, when they saw a nearby beach littered with garbage.
“We’re both sailors, and we just got sick of it,” Miller said, “sick of trash everywhere we went.”
In addition to underwater recovery, the group does cleaning above the surface and on Wednesday worked with a youth sailing class to remove more than 700 pieces of trash from paths along the pond.
After collecting the debris during cleanups, Rozalia usually recycles or disposes of the materials.
About a dozen people watched the team Wednesday night, including Peter Barber, 64, a Jamaica Plain resident who enjoys boating on the pond.
“The technology is great,” Barber said, adding that he was pleased “to see it applied to doing cleanup work, which we all well know we shouldn’t have to do, but we do have to.”
Miller said the public can see the group in action Thursday on the Charles River from 5 to 7 p.m.
Earlier on Wednesday, they removed debris from the Charlestown Navy Yard.
“It is a prolific beer can area,” she said.