Sorting Sunday

At Loggerhead Marinelife Center, we host and support several cleanup activities.  Some are quarterly, some are monthly, some happen more frequently than that.  These include: Blue Friends Society Beach Cleanups, Deep Blue Yoga classes, Kid’s Fishing Programs, Jupiter Waves Beach Cleanups, Juno Beach Civic Association Beach Cleanups, underwater cleanups at the Juno Beach Pier, private groups, and special event cleanups.  Unfortunately, there is no shortage of garbage on the coast.

While we are sometimes discouraged by the amount of trash we find, ultimately, it is our driving motivation for planning more cleanups and working harder.  In a perfect world, we would no longer have to clean the beaches, but since we do, we are grateful that we have the platform, and the help, to do it.

Following each cleanup, LMC’s Sorting Team weighs each bag and empties the collected debris onto a tarp.  The trash is sorted into several specific categories, counted piece-for-piece, and recorded into our database.  Our hope is that by studying the trends in the amount and types of pollution that wash onto our beaches over time, we will be able to better understand where the trash is coming from and therefore, better prevent it from being there in the first place.

We find all kinds of things in the trash we sort: bottles, straws, toothbrushes, toys, wrappers, balloons, clothing.   But, the vast majority, no matter the time of year or location, is plastic.  Plastic does not biodegrade but instead photodegrades.  The sun breaks the plastic down into smaller and smaller pieces over time.  Some of these microplastics sink and some float enabling distribution throughout the water column.  They collect in ocean gyres and are all too often consumed by marine species from the bottom of the food chain to the top and every step in between.  Studies are currently being conducted on the human health repercussions of the plastic in our ocean.  The long-term effects are still unclear though recently, a study on cultured oysters being sold for human consumption found that one dietary serving (six oysters), would contain approximately 50 plastic particles (Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen 2014).

Cleanups are an important immediate solution that can greatly benefit marine life.  But, cleaning up a mess that is still flowing into the ocean every day won’t get us anywhere fast.  We can all take part in reversing this problem.  Take a look at any plastic item you use just once and throw away.  Can you replace it with a reusable version?  Share your ideas with us, we would love to hear from you!

Join us for upcoming cleanups:

  • Deep Blue Yoga class and cleanup: 2/11 at 7:30 AM
  • Kid’s Fishing Program: 2/11 at 8:00 AM
  • Jupiter Waves Beach Cleanup at Coral Cove: 2/12 at 9:00 AM
  • Blue Friends Society Beach Cleanup: 2/18 at 8:30 AM

Please contact Demi at dfox@marinelife.org for information on any of the above.

Van Cauwenberghe L, Janssen CR (2014) Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption. Environ Pollut 193:65–70.

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