International Coastal CleanupStories About the Impacts of Marine Debris Kick Off Community Cleanup Along Florida's Tampa Bay
Another story, from David White, Director of Ocean Conservancy's Southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Region, told about a concerned citizen in Texas who organized a small group in 1986 to conduct a coastal cleanup on Padre Islanda local community effort that over the past 20 years has evolved into a worldwide International Coastal Cleanup. White used this story to emphasize how community efforts "can also have positive far-reaching effects."
Onley made the trip to the Tampa Bay area to participate in the cleanup within Pinellas National Wildlife Refuge, part of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Deputy Refuge Manager of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, echoed the thoughts of Onley and White and was proud to take part in the local cleanup activity, which is "vital to protecting these important wildlife preserves."
The volunteers also watched a 30-second public-service announcement, created by the AdCouncil, that features Walt Disney Pictures' Ariel, the Little Mermaid, and stresses that "No matter where you live, life in the ocean depends on you… To help protect our ocean, recycle and dispose of your trash properly." (View the announcement at URL http://www.keepoceansclean.org/ads/).
Martha Garcia of Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring Tampa Bay, provided materials, logistical information, and safety tips to the volunteers before they headed out to various sites throughout the refuge and nearby Fort De Soto Park.
Peter Clark, Director of Tampa Bay Watch, hosted the event at Tampa Bay Watch's facility in Tierra Verde, Florida. His organization provided boats and equipment that enabled special groups to get to areas farther into the refuge, ordinarily beyond the access of boats and humans. Onley, White, Ramos, and Ann Tihansky (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS]) worked with Clark to remove monofilament from nesting areas on Little Bird Key, a rookery island normally off limits to human activity. "We think a lot of this fishing line is brought here by the birds that have gotten tangled up in fishing areas," said Clark. "Other birds land here and get tangled and trapped. Keith and I selected this area so that we could get in here and clean up the fishing line, to prevent more birds from getting entangled. This area also illustrates why it's so important to educate fisherman to properly dispose of fishing line and remove it from the birds when they're caught accidentally."
When all the volunteers reconvened after 3 hours of cleaning up, they had gathered more than 1,200 lb of trash. Nearly 300 in number, the volunteers included participants from the Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges, USFWS, USGS, Tampa Bay Watch, Ocean Conservancy, U.S. Coast Guard, and public citizensall of whom turned out to spend the day along the shores of Tampa Bay, watching wildlife up close and helping to make their world a better place.
International Coastal Cleanup is coordinated by Ocean Conservancy which also publishes annual reports about cleanup activities and the types and amounts of trash collected; learn more at "Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup."
Local efforts are coordinated by such community-based groups as Keep Pinellas Beautiful, which promotes litter removal, recycling, and litter-prevention education; and Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges, which supports the refuges in Tampa Bay through community outreach and interaction.
in this issue:
International Coastal Cleanup