Easy Actions for Beach Lovers

By Cherie Graves

March 20 marks the first day of spring. While in some states, that might have residents anticipating the end of a snowy winter, in Florida it often represents the beginning of beach weather.

Florida’s 825 miles of sandy beaches attract millions of beach lovers each year. Some folks love to be a part of the crowds at the most popular beaches, while others prefer a more secluded seaside for yoga stretches or romantic strolls, or one where the mullet run and the red drum roll.

Whether you’re a local who gets a daily dose of the coast, a seasonal resident, a weekend sun worshiper or a once-a-year visitor, there are many easy actions that can ensure your favorite beach spot keeps the natural characteristics that keep you coming back.

Before you go:

  • Pack a waste-free picnic lunch or snack pack.
  • Pack your beach towels, sunscreen and other beach supplies in reusable bags.
  • Locate nearby restroom facilities; many beaches also provide showers, so you can keep the sand on the beach and out of your vehicle. Check DEP’s online beach guide for a list of amenities on public beaches.
  • If you’re more into catching fish than catching a tan, learn what kind of license is required and species size limits by visiting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website, where you can also obtain a license online.

On the Beach:

  • Keep litter off the beach and be sure to anchor plastic bags. Nearly 95,000 plastic bags were removed from Florida’s beaches in 2010. Plastic bags can end up in the gulf or Atlantic waters where sea turtles mistake them for a jellyfish lunch. Keep a bag handy for trash and recyclables.
  • Pick up after your pets.
  • Reel in and properly dispose of tangled fishing line, broken corks, hooks or other tackle. Discarded fishing line can entangle dolphins, pelicans and other ocean and shore dwelling creatures.
  • Use pathways and boardwalks when available to protect dunes and native vegetation.

Upon Departure:

  • Properly dispose of leftover food items and scraps. Predators scavenging for food may be detrimental to area threatened or endangered species.
  • Fill in any holes created during your visit. Creating moats and holes with sand shovels is fun, but presents a challenge to hatchling sea turtles after you leave.
  • Dispose of cigarettes properly. In 2010, the International Coastal Cleanup removed 1,892,526 cigarettes and cigarette filters from beaches around the world; more than 200,000 of these were on Florida’s beaches.
  • Follow a “Pack in, pack out” philosophy. Make sure everything you brought to the beach leaves the beach and is put into the proper trash cans or recycle bins. One thing you should take from your beach visit – a lot of photos for unforgettable memories.
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