The Beach Review celebrated the official first day of summer with our first beach cleanup at South Inlet Park in Boca Raton, Florida!
We met on the morning of June 21st, 2014 with one mission in mind… fill up the bio-degradable trash bags and clean up the beach!
What we found was disturbing.
When you hear about beach cleanups from other people, you think you know what to expect; you think you will know what you will find. But as with most things in life, hearing about something versus actually doing it are two completely different things, and a beach cleanup is no exception.
The best analogy that comes to mind of what a beach cleanup is like is the same experience that you have when snorkeling underwater. At first, nothing is there, but with a single blink of the eye, the creatures of the ocean reveal themselves to you- fish swim beneath you, swim next to you, swim all around you. With a beach cleanup, at first you look out at the glistening morning sand, the persistent, yet quiet break of the waves, and that is all you see. When you put your gloves on and hold that trash bag in your hand, suddenly things begin appearing, and before you know it, you are overwhelmed by the shear amount of garbage that is strewn carelessly about this paradise.
There are two glaring issues of this beach that seem to contribute to the amount of trash on the beach, besides the typical lackadaisical beach goer.
Issue 1: Fishermen
Fishermen flock to this location because of the ease of access to inlet fishing, which is basically a superhighway of marine life from the ocean into or out of the intracoastal waterway.
The main problem with fishermen is fishing line. Fishing line takes 600 years to decompose, and is often mistaken as food by birds, manatees, and sea turtles. Ingestion of fishing line is often fatal.
We found copious amounts of fishing line tangled in the jetty, left on the shoreline, and buried in the sand.
Why? Yes, someone is just carelessly leaving it behind, but this beach does not have a fishing line disposal receptacle! A popular fishing spot with no fishing line receptacle? Ridiculous!
The Beach Review has contacted the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP) that is run through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in hopes of trying to get a proper receptacle there to hopefully curtail the frivolous disposal of fishing line. We will keep you updated on our progress.
The only fishing line disposal location in Boca Raton that we found on the MRRP website is at 7 Seas Bait and Tackle at 1308 NW 2nd Avenue, Boca Raton, 33432. Please take your monofilament fishing line there so it can be recycled.
Issue 2: The Dredge
The city owned dredge is in place to transfer sand at the bottom of the inlet so that large boats can still traverse safely through the inlet. According to the dredge’s website, “The material dredged from the inlet is placed above the mean high water line of the beaches 500 feet south of the southern jetty of the inlet.”
This location is a main part of the South Inlet Park Beach. When the dredge is off, many people walk directly across where the dredge spews its “materials” in minimal shoes or bare feet because it’s the beach! It’s sand! Not so fast…
The “material dredged” is not just sand, but also any piece of trash that has been deposited into the ocean and found a temporary resting place at the bottom of the inlet.
We found an unbelievable amount of trash that was thrown out of the dredge. How do we know it was from the dredge? Because of the location of the debris. When the dredge spews the sand etc. from the bottom of the inlet and then is turned off, it leaves a distinct pattern of wet sand and water runoff over the dry interior sand.
It also appeared that the machine was shredding certain items, specifically aluminum cans. A whole aluminum can usually won’t cut someone’s foot, but shredded aluminum most definitely will. Most of what we saw were iceberg cans, meaning that you would pull a piece that was slightly protruding out of the sand’s surface, and instead of pulling a small piece, you would actually pull out a much larger piece that was hidden by the sand.
Do not go near the dredge when it is on. It is an extremely dangerous machine and we saw first hand that it is not just sand and water coming out of it!
What the dredge brings to the surface (literally) are past violations against nature. The area where the dredge is depositing materials should be given extra care by those who are responsible for the maintenance of this beach (it is run by Palm Beach County), or for any other group that wants to do a beach cleanup in this location. As dangerous as the trash on the beach is, it is a second chance to remove it from the environmental equation all together.
Everyone should pay extra attention to the trash around them, because all it takes is a split second to step on the wrong thing, and your beach trip is ruined.
Other Items Found
- The “find of the day” went to the abandoned baby doll.
- Small plastics, specifically straws, tops to children’s drinks, plastic silverware, etc. Small plastics are eaten by sea birds and turtles, and can cause them great harm by blocking their digestive tract.
- Fragments of rubber and tires
- A whole shoe sole
- A variety of fabrics, from terry cloth to mesh
- Bottle caps
- Abandoned children’s sand toys
- Guitar string
- Broken glass
- Plastic bags
- Closed zip-tie
- Shotgun shell (?!?)
- Cables and electrical wires
- Styrofoam cooler chunks
- Food packaging
On your next trip to the beach, be cognizant of what you are bringing with you and what you are leaving behind. Remember, you are a visitor in the full-time home of other beings.