GTM Research Reserve Participates in World’s Largest Volunteer Beach Cleanup

Sept. 30, 2014

~58 pounds of trash collected from local shoreline during International Coastal Cleanup~

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is now free from 43 bags of waste thanks to the hard work of more than 78 volunteers. The trash was collected as part of the 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to clean up beaches, lakes and rivers. Volunteers, who checked in at GTM’s Environmental Education Center in Ponte Vedra Beach as well as the GTM Marineland office, patrolled eight miles of shoreline and indexed each item of trash collected.

The most prevalent waste item collected was cigarette butts — the volunteers bagged a total of 696. Among the other waste items collected were more than 613 miscellaneous plastic items, 352 plastic bottle caps, 212 food wrappers and 112 straws and stirrers. The most interesting waste item collected by volunteers was an outdated jar of pickles. The total weight of all of the trash collected from both cleanup sites was 58 pounds.

“Keeping our beach free from trash is one of the easiest ways to make the ocean more resilient,” said Michael Shirley, Ph.D., director of the GTM Research Reserve. “From creating less trash to using proper trash disposal, everyone in the community can help keep our ocean clean and free of debris.”

Ocean trash compromises the health of humans, wildlife and the economies that depend on a healthy ocean. Every piece of trash the volunteers collect will be tracked and included in an annual index of global marine debris to be released in 2015.

Last year, nearly 650,000 people in 92 countries picked up more than 12 million pounds of trash along 13,000 miles of coastline. In the state of Florida, 23,362 volunteers found a total of 452,913 pounds of debris over approximately 1,175 miles in 2013.

For more information about the International Coastal Cleanup and the 2014 Report,click here.

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