Tag Archives: beach

Our First Beach Cleanup- The Analysis

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.

The Issues

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.

litter recycle trash beach cleanup
A mixture of fishing line, small plastics, and other litter.

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

mangled aluminum can litter beach cleanup
An unrecognizable, mangled aluminum can, with very sharp edges.

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.

What is Responsible Tourism?

Responsible tourism is about visiting a wonderful location and its local population without impacting it in a negative way.

It is about leaving only footprints in the sand behind, and taking away only memories.

Also known as “sustainable tourism” or “ecotourism,” some people believe that this concept is unattainable, that this is an oxymoron. How can you promote travel and economy that will undoubtedly impact the local environment, while also protecting the environment?

In order for responsible tourism to work, it has to be a collective effort by both the visitors and the locals. Even the smallest consideration, such as picking up your own trash, not leaving cigarette butts in the sand, or even wearing the right suntan lotion can help the environment’s future.

Local businesses and hotels  take measures to be  environmentally friendly as well. Some have implemented green programs, such as putting water-saving fixtures in the bathroom, or asking their guests to ask for new towels only if absolutely  necessary. The Beach Review will seek out these establishments so you can know the eco-conscious hotels and resorts to stay at.

A little bit of environmental consciousness can go a long way. It is also contagious.

The leading scientists all believe that we must act now if we want to  stop global warming. Those of us who have the deeply engrained desire to travel appreciate the world around us, and want our future generations to enjoy the same beauty.

Go green. Travel green. Practice responsible tourism.

 

Swimming Safety: Rip Currents

rip current beach sign

Getting caught in a rip current is a scary moment, no matter how well you can swim or how many times you have been in the ocean.

As with most scenarios, maintaining composure will allow you to get out of the rip current safely, or as this sign so succinctly says, “Break the grip of the rip!”

According to the NOAA, 100 people drown in rip currents every year in the United States alone. People caught in rip currents account for more than 80% of all lifeguard rescues.

Rip currents can occur in any large body of water, even the Great Lakes!

What is a rip current?

A rip current is a fast-moving current of water that moves from the shore out to sea. They can be narrow, or hundreds of yards wide, depending on the conditions. If you are caught in a rip current, it will pull you out to sea, but not underwater. That is why floating and/or staying calm is imperative to your survival.

You can always see a rip current from shore, right?

No, not always. You can look for signs, such as churning water, murky water, or excess foam or seaweed. If most of the water has normal waves rolling in and the water is clear, but there is a section that appears darker, or the waves are choppier, chances are the latter area is indeed a rip current.

I’m pretty much the best swimmer. Ever. I’ll be fine…right?

Wrong. A rip current would give Michael Phelps a run for his money. Some rip currents have been recorded moving at speeds of eight feet per second! Just as fast as you got into a rip current, you can get out of it, but the shear speed of the water might alarm you. As difficult as it may seem, don’t panic!

Forget this, I am never going in the ocean again!

Woah, woah, woah! Don’t be like that. You can go into the ocean, but don’t go into the ocean when A) a large storm, especially a tropical storm or hurricane is coming or going B) if other people are getting rescued by lifeguards due to a rip current, or C) there are red, “no swimming” flags flying along the shoreline and/or at the lifeguard stand.

OMG I DIDN’T LISTEN, I AM STUCK IN A RIP CURRENT!

  1. Keep calm, and breathe.
  2. DO NOT try to swim towards shore. You will be swimming against the current, and that will exhaust your energy.
  3. Instead, swim out of the current, parallel to the shore.
  4. Once you are out of the current, you can then swim into shore.
  5. If you cannot get out of the current, tread water, or float. (Floating will conserve the most energy.) Eventually, you will be out of the current, and then you can swim to shore. Don’t be afraid by how far offshore you may seem to be.
  6. If you absolutely cannot get out of the rip current, face the shoreline, yell, and wave your arms to get the attention of a lifeguard.
  7. Do not panic. Do not think about how you just watched  Jaws. Think happy, peaceful thoughts.

Phew, I made it out! So what should I do next time to prevent getting caught in a rip current?

  • Check your local weather or a weather app. It will say if there is a rip current warning, and where. It is best to avoid that area.
  • Swim where there are lifeguards present. It is nice to have someone watching over you who has been trained and knows the proper procedures, and CPR if necessary.
  • If you think there might be a rip current, ask the on-duty lifeguard to see if he or she agrees, and what their recommendations are.
  • Wearing polarized sunglasses may help to see the differences between the regular water, and the rip currents.

If someone else is in trouble, call 9-1-1 or run to a lifeguard. Even in unguarded areas, there may be a buoy that you can throw to the person in trouble. If you go after the person, you may become caught in the rip current yourself, putting you both in jeopardy.

life ring flotation device beach safety

Safe Swimming!

The Trials of a Baby Sea Turtle

It’s a life or death journey that only one out of every thousand survive. It’s the moment to sink, or to swim. This is the trek of the hatchling.

To humans, it is not a great distance from the edge of the sand to the ocean surf. To a baby sea turtle, this is the longest, most significant journey of their lives.

Sea turtles lay their eggs, and then leave them behind forever, never knowing how many, if any, of their next-gen will make it to the sea. After incubating underneath the sand, the babies will hatch, and crawl just beneath the surface in unison. When the sand temperature is just right, the hatchlings will emerge from the sand, looking for visual clues to make their way to the sea.

Meanwhile, natural predators standby waiting to feast on the disoriented hatchlings, picking off a significant portion of the hopeful swimmers.

Hatchlings use clues such as the white caps of the waves and the natural light of the horizon line to adjust their course in the right direction. This is why human lights can be so detrimental to the hatchlings trying to find the ocean; streetlights, houselights, carlights, or flashlights can distract a hatchling from its natural path.

Another issue for hatchlings is debris in their path. When a mother turtle dropped off her eggs, she probably chose a spot that was clear. Overtime with the changing tides, many different things, from seaweed to human litter, can wash up and ruin the hatchlings’ course.

Below are some images that present different angles around a single protected sea turtle’s nest. It begs the question of how these tiny hatchlings will be able to make their way to the ocean against these physical obstacles.

turtle nest pollution
The sea turtle’s nest.

 

sea turtle nest pollution
Zoom out and begin to see some of the trash mixed with the seaweed.

 

sea turtle nest pollution
Zoom further out to see the different types of plastics just feet away from the turtle’s nest.

 

How will the hatchlings overcome this? Why does this have to be another obstacle on an already difficult journey?
How will the hatchlings overcome this? Why does this have to be another obstacle on an already difficult journey?

 

pollution beach plastic trash turtle
More plastic in the hatchling’s path.

 

Think about where your trash goes.  Don’t be the reason why 999 baby hatchlings won’t make it to the ocean.

 

Marine Debris: In the Mangroves

More than just water moves in and out with the tides. If you walk along the coast at low tide, whether you are near the ocean or the intracoastal, the water will leave behind a troubling portrait of its health, as if asking for help or even mercy.

Moving with the currents is the trash that ends up in the waters, whether it originated directly from the beaches, from marine vessels, or from even further inland.

Below you will see a small snapshot of what is occurring in the mangrove ecosystem.

mangrove trash debris litter

This photo was taken along the mangrove boardwalk at Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex in Boca Raton. Each red rectangle shows a piece of trash that was deposited in the mangroves. In one small frame, we were able to capture nine pieces of trash.

You see a chunk of styrofoam in the top left corner, and aluminum cans and plastic bottles strewn about. These are some of the absolute worst things that can be thrown into the ocean because of their low decomposition rates. (It takes a small styrofoam cup about 50 years to decompose; 200 years for an aluminum can to decompose; 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose.)

More than likely these were deposited here indirectly, meaning that someone probably wasn’t sitting in the mangroves drinking beer and bottled water. These were pushed into the mangroves and left behind by the high tide.

The mangroves are home to many creatures, from birds to foxes, from crabs to spiders. They are safe houses for fish, crustaceans, and shellfish to reproduce. Snapper, snook, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, oyster, shrimp, and many other valuable marine species find their food amongst the mangroves. Pelicans and other coastal birds use the branches of the mangroves as their rookeries.

What would you do if your neighbor put his or her trash on your lawn, instead of in the proper receptacle? Even if it was just a couple of cans, or a plastic bottle? You wouldn’t stand for it, so why should we stand for this treatment of a valuable ecosystem?

Mangroves are important, fragile ecosystems that help protect coastal regions from erosion.  Mangrove roots naturally filter the water from pollutants, but in no way can they self-regulate the trash that accumulates there.

Poisoning the mangroves with human waste will lead to the imminent destruction of many already endangered species who call the mangroves home, such as the following:

  • American Crocodile
  • Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle
  • Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake
  • Barbados Yellow Warbler
  • Brown Pelican
  • Hawksbill Sea Turtle
  • Eastern Indigo Snake
  • Key Deer
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Southern Bald Eagle
  • West Indian Manatee

So… what can you do to help protect the mangroves?

While you will see the occasional soda can, most cans you will see are beer cans. This happens because many people are drinking on the beach or on their boats, and when they become drunk, they begin to give little regard to the environment (amongst other things). Before you start drinking, have a trash disposal plan. Make sure you bring bio-degradable trash bags with you to the beach or put some on your boat. If you have a cooler, put the empties in there so that when you return home, you can properly sort and dispose your recyclables.

To minimize plastic bottles in the mangroves, use a reusable water bottle that you will take home with you instead of throwing it into the abyss.

Abandon the out of sight, out of mind mentality. Nothing in this world just disappears, not your problems, and definitely not your trash.

Friends don’t let friends become enemies of the environment. If you see your friend engaging in behavior that is hazardous to the environment, say, “Hey, friend, why don’t you throw that can over here to me, and I’ll throw it away for you?” If you don’t, then you are guilty by association.

Think of the critters. Think of the baby chicks waiting for their parent to return to the nest with food, their cute little chirps, their eyes not yet open. Mama bird returns home, and as she goes to regurgitate the food into the hungry beaks of her chicklets, she chokes, she screams, she squawks. She falls over dead because she choked on a piece of trash, leaving her innocent little babies hungry and vulnerable to the mangrove predators.

 

Our lives will come and go, and our trash and litter will remain. Leave more to your legacy than plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

Let’s all work to protect the mangroves and its inhabitants.

Indian Blanket Flower

When you think of the beach, wildflowers are not usually the first image that comes to mind. Believe it or not, there are many interesting wildflowers you can find at the beach!

The Indian Blanket Flower (Gallardia pulchella) is a wonderful wildflower that flourishes in sandy soils. It is also known as the “fire wheel” because of its flame-colored petals. At the beach, you will sometimes find it amongst dune sunflowers. The Indian Blanket can also be abundantly found in meadows and prairies.

This wildflower is the state flower of Oklahoma. It is believed to hold medicinal properties to fight ailments such as gastroenteritis. The Kiowa Indians celebrated this flower as token of good luck.

 

Beach Safety 101

At the beach, it is easy to feel relaxed. The soothing sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean mixed with the warm, tropical breeze can take all the worries away. You want to let go, feel like you are away from it all. The one thing, however, you should never let go of is your personal awareness of what is going on around you.

Despite the fact that we want to believe that sunshine chases all the evils away, unfortunately it can bring many criminal moths to the flame. Bad things unfortunately do happen in beautiful, breathtaking settings.

macarthur beach safety

Most beaches will have a sign that will remind you to make sure all of your valuables are locked away; these signs exist for a reason. I once read that law enforcement officials believe that a clean car is a safe car; if there is nothing in view to tempt the thugs and thieves , they will move on to the next car.

Criminals know that once you leave your car for the beach, you probably won’t be returning for a while. Most of the time  your car won’t be within your sight. The criminals know this. There will usually be a lookout, watching the lot, and looking for certain things that will tip them off to some goodies.

For example, ladies if you store your purse somewhere in the car, then you will be walking out of the car without a purse, which will raise a flag to the criminal lookout to know to look in the car for a purse! (This scenario has happened to me.)

Another scenario I witnessed was a gentleman who left his shorts on the passenger’s seat of his car. When he returned to his car after a mere fifteen minutes, his passenger window was smashed in, and the shorts were gone. Luckily, nothing of value was in the shorts, but it was mind boggling to think that someone had just smashed his window in in hopes of something being in the shorts. They stole SHORTS. It was a huge chance that didn’t pay off for them, and ended up causing a headache to the gentleman victim. If there would have been a purse, smartphone, or mp3 player within view, that stuff would have been gone before you  even had a chance to return to the car. Just because the doors are locked, your valuables are still within reach.

People will also be bold and steal something right out of your beach bag or off your beach towel. Broad daylight won’t stop them, so be aware of the people around you. Always have an eye on your things.

Don’t let your day in paradise turn into a nightmare.

Here are some ideas to minimize your chance of being a victim:

  • Don’t Flaunt Your Technology. Don’t walk onto the beach and pull out your shiny new iPhone, your amazing SLR camera, and then run into the water. Now everyone knows you have the good stuff.
  • If You Are With a Group, Don’t Leave Your Beach Camp Unattended. Go to the water’s edge in alternating groups, so that there is always someone with all of the beach bags and stuff.
  • If You Are Alone, leave your stuff in front of the lifeguard stand. Lifeguards are observant, and might notice if someone else goes sniffing around your things.
  • Leave Your Designer Gear at Home. Everyone loves to show off their designer beach gear, but no one likes to lose it. Save the labels for the pool.
  • Lock Valuable Things You Can’t Be Without in the Glove Box. If your glove box has a lock, put things like credit cards, etc. in there. Place them between the pages of a car manual. The longer a thief sees a prospective robbery taking, the lower the chance they will take the risk.
  • Make Sure Your Car is Secure. Double check the locks, double click your alarm system so the whole parking lot can hear it beep-beep.
  • Check on Your Car Often. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to run back to the car and make sure nothing sketchy is going down, either to your car or someone else’s. It takes a village.
  • Park Where There is Security. Park where there is an attendant, where there are workers, and near other cars. There is safety in numbers.
  • Keep Things Out of Sight. Whether it is your car, or your beach blanket, don’t leave things out in plain view. Leaving something as simple as a car charger may signal to a thief that there is a phone somewhere to be found.
  • Don’t Even Risk It. Whatever you truly do not need with you at the beach, leave at home.
  • Always Trust Your Instincts. If a place is giving you bad vibes, turn around right then and there, and go somewhere else. Don’t take a chance if your inner voice is telling you something is wrong.

Don’t let other people kill your jive, be thoughtful and prepared and you should have a great time! This is not the time or place to figure out if ignorance yields bliss, because that could mean you could lose something you will really miss.

beach safety lock autos tips

 

How To Beat the Beach Heat

The beach is a place where we go to enjoy the summer sun and cool off from the summer heat. Most beaches offer little shade, and sometimes during the peak summer months the water won’t even offer true refreshment from the heat.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of what the heat can do to you or others, so that way a nice day at the beach won’t become a nightmare. The good thing is that it can all be prevented with proper preparation.

The Three Phases of Heat Problems

Heat Cramps

The first sign that the heat may be negatively affecting you is heat cramps. These occur during extended periods of time in the heat, often due to activities that require a high level of energy. Playing volleyball or jogging on the beach can induce heat cramps.

Your legs, arms, or stomach may begin to cramp, causing great discomfort. If you begin to cramp up, it is best to stop whatever activity you are doing and seek shade and water, until you begin to feel better.

If you do not listen to your body, heat cramps can turn into heat exhaustion.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by your body’s inability to cool itself off. This can be caused by hot weather, dehydration, strenuous activity, or alcohol consumption.

Whether you are suntanning, reading a book, searching for seashells, or jogging, heat exhaustion can strike.

Symptoms to look for: heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, weak rapid pulse, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, cool moist skin with goosebumps despite the heat*

Treatments: Seek out shade or air-conditioning, drink cool fluids, put cool water on the skin, loosen clothing**

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees fahrenheit. (The average normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees fahrenheit.)

If heatstroke goes untreated, it can lead to permanent damage or even death.

Symptoms to look for: lack of sweat despite the heat, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, headache, confusion, muscle cramps, weakness, unconsciousness*

Treatments: Call a doctor or ambulance ASAP, immerse in cold water, seek out cool air, use cooling blankets, use ice packs**

Who is at Risk?

Some people are at a greater risk than others when it comes to dealing with the heat. The elderly and young are at very high risk for developing heat problems, and should be closely monitored at the beach.

Certain medications can affect how your body deals with the heat, so consult with your doctor to see if any medicine you are on may cause any heat issues for you.

Any day that has a high heat index of 91 degrees fahrenheit or above is hot enough to create problems for anyone, despite your age, health or experience. So be prepared!

*All above information courtesy of Mayo Clinic.

Things to Bring to the Beach to Prevent Heat Problems

  • Lots of water. If you plan on staying an extended period of time at the beach, it is best to have at least one gallon of water per adult. Make sure to use a reusable or refillable bottle to reduce plastic use.
  • Sunscreen. Apply and then reapply. Try to use reef-friendly sunscreen.
  • Umbrella. Umbrellas are a great way to provide some shade to your beach camp.
  • Drinks with electrolytes. Drinks such as Powerade or Gatorade provide nourishment that are designed to help prevent dehydration.
  • Cooler with Ice. Not only will your drinks stay cool, but you can cool down yourself and others with the ice.
  • Battery-Powered Fan. These fans are easy to use and will provide a constant breeze for anyone feeling the heat. You can even buy ones that are attached to spray bottles, so you can mist yourself!

It’s important to know the risks of the heat in order to be prepared for your beach day! Stay cool and beat the beach heat!

**The Beach Review is not written by a medical physician. Any information provided here should not be substituted for a licensed physician’s opinion. If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above, please seek professional medical help immediately.