Don’t Let 2020 Be Trash. Conduct a Self-Guided Beach Cleanup!
So far, 2020 has been….interesting. Due to the pandemic, our Center has had to cancel its monthly beach cleanups, as well as other conservation programs. Considering our beach provides a critical nesting habitat for endangered and threatened sea turtles, it’s vital for us to keep our beaches clean, dark and as flat as possible.
Marine debris on or near the beach can also obstruct the path of nesting and hatching sea turtles causing them to become disoriented. Also, nesting and hatching sea turtles can accidentally ingest marine debris left on the beach or floating near the shore, which can cause internal damage. But, we can help improve our given situation by conducting self-guided beach cleanups at the Center.
Therefore, we’re bringing back Plastic Free July during the peak of sea turtle nesting season, and inviting South Florida participants to our self-guided beach cleanup program! On Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., we’re welcoming interested guests to stop by our Marine Debris Sorting Station, located on the back deck of our campus.
To ensure guests’ health and safety, we are providing the necessary supplies (a cotton bag and gloves) for guests to participate in our self-guided beach cleanups. Volunteers who return with their bags full of marine debris will receive a free shirt provided by Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful! In an effort to reduce waste, we will properly recycle all gloves during cleanups through TerraCycle.
Plastic Pollution and Data Collection
At the end of each month, our Center analyzes the marine debris collected and logs data with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA ), the Ocean Conservancy’s global database and Florida agencies. The accumulated data from conservation efforts, including our self-guided beach cleanup program, help inform the development and implementation of conservation initiatives and policies. Additionally, the data is used to create targeted outreach and education programs that aim to reduce the amount of waste that enters our oceans.
Specifically, we have found that between 70-90% of all debris collected during cleanups are plastic. Since plastic isn’t biodegradable, it never goes away. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called micro-plastics. Sea turtles and other marine life often mistake these pieces of plastic for food and ingest them, causing a number of health problems.
This material commonly includes phthalates, flame retardants and Bisphenol A (BPA). These toxins are not only dangerous for marine life, but they can also pose health threats to humans. With humans at the top of the food chain, we are prone to consuming these toxins.
Documenting and recording the amount of plastic and the location where plastic pieces are collected is critical in understanding the global plastic pollution problem. Often, marine debris that collects on our local beaches is not from our area, but instead has traveled through the ocean currents and landed on our beach. By sharing our data with global databases, we are able to work with over 90 global conservation partners to help create initiatives, including our Responsible Pier Program, to reduce the amount of plastic that enters our oceans.
Help Inspire Action
Each month on our social media channels, our Center posts a marine debris sort report from previous cleanups. These sort reports provide insights on the amount and type of marine debris that was collected during conservation initiatives. For instance, during three cleanups in February 2020, we collected 133 pounds of debris, which was comprised of 92.6% plastic. Use this information to your benefit and share it with others!
And, during self-guided beach cleanups, post about your involvement in Plastic Free July and why you are helping create a healthier planet. If you are unable to participate, we kindly ask that you to reach out to LMC, or your local conservation authorities, on ways you can help improve the health of our ocean. Together, we can amplify Plastic Free July and efforts year-round!
Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation and educational institution that promotes conservation of ocean ecosystems with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The Center features an on-site hospital, research laboratory, educational exhibits and aquariums, and also operates the Juno Beach Pier, which hosts world-class angling and sightseeing. Situated on one of the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open daily and hosts over 360,000 guests free-of-charge each year. The Center’s conservation team works with 90 local and international organizations across six continents to form partnerships and share conservation initiatives and best practices that are core to its mission of ocean conservation. The Center is expanding and has launched its Waves of Progress capital expansion campaign, designed to accelerate and amplify LMC’s conservation and education impact. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call (561) 627-8280.