LMC’s Pollution Prevention Initiative was developed out of the center’s commitment to battle the ongoing issue of marine debris. The initiative is composed of three primary components:
- Prevent and Reduce marine debris by providing adequate trash and recycle receptacles
- Remove marine debris from local beaches and waterways through clean-up events
- Educate the general public on the impacts of marine debris on the local environment and they can help
In partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, we launched the “Trash Free Seas” marine clean-up initiative in May of this year. The initiative was developed due to the need for additional information regarding the effects that marine debris has on marine wildlife, specifically sea turtles.
“Trash Free Seas” is a citizen-science program, allowing LMC volunteers and community members to participate and take an active role in sea turtle conservation and the battle against marine debris. Volunteers help remove debris from local beaches and record their findings on the supplied data sheet.
Below is the breakdown of the debris removed from the beach over the first four months of the program:
Time Period: May 1, 2014-September 30, 2014
Area Monitored: The northern boundary of MacArthur Beach State Park to the Jupiter Inlet
Total Number of Volunteers Participated: 157
Total Items Removed from the Beach: 13,627
Top Ten Items Collected:
- Cigarette Butts-2,035
- Food Wrappers-1,700
- Bottle Caps (plastic)-1,124
- Straws, Stirrers-591
- Lids (plastic)-364
- Bottle Caps (metal)-342
- Beverage Bottles (plastic)-237
- Other Plastic Bags-205
- Rope (1 yard/meter=1 piece)-197
- Forks, Knives, Spoons-184
Tiny Trash (Separated from Top 10)
- Plastic Pieces-1,803
- Foam Pieces-725
- Glass Pieces-75
Based on the data collected, we are now identifying solutions to the marine debris issues on our local beaches.
Initially, the “Trash Free Seas” program was only planned to continue through sea turtle nesting season (March-October in SE Florida); however, we have decided to extend it into an ongoing/long-term program. Not only will this continue to remove marine debris from our local beaches, but it will also help us to gain a better understanding of the varying marine debris trends throughout the year.
This program would not be possible without the support of many dedicated volunteers; we are extremely thankful for all of their efforts. We would like to give a special shout out to LMC Volunteer, Betsy Smith.
Betsy Smith was integral to the success of the Trash Free Seas Initiative. She walked the same stretch of beach near Coral Cove three or more times a week from April through October and documented all of her findings along the way. Over the summer, Betsy completed over 80 marine debris beach walks for the Trash Free Seas program, provided a large amount of the documentation we accumulated and removed thousands of pieces of marine debris from the environment. Thank you Betsy!
How can you get involved and participate in the “Trash Free Seas” Initiative?
Visit our website at marinelife.org/trashfreeseas for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.