Recently, I went on a beach walk and did a one-hour beach cleanup. I started at the northernmost entrance to Spanish River Park, where there is limited street parking on Spanish River Road. I walked north towards Highland Beach.
Overall, the beach was relatively clean, though there were a few concentrations of trash, and plenty of disturbing finds.
Though it was overcast, it was an eerily beautiful beach day.
The gray sky bled into the gray sea, and without the help of a sailboat I wouldn’t have been able to tell where the horizon was.
The sea was also silent, a rare sight on the east coast of Florida.
Scary Findings (Or Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Shoes On at the Beach!)
For most of the US, summer is winding down. Soon, the kids will be back at school and the heat and waves of summer 2015 will be a precious memory.
But for those of you who are still planning beach vacations, who are venturing south for the winter, or who are lucky to live near the beach full time, here are six reasons why you should participate in a beach cleanup before summer is officially over (or really whenever you can)!
Help protect sea turtle hatchlings and other marine life
Sea turtle season doesn’t end until October, so there are still plenty of hatchlings waiting to emerge and find their way to the ocean. We know that their journey is already hard enough, so let’s make sure that their path to the ocean is as easy as possible. Despite sea turtle nests being marked off and protected, I always find a lot of trash around the nests. Not only does this litter pose a threat to the hatchlings, but it also threatens any shore birds that search the sand for their food. The tide brings in a lot of garbage, let’s make sure it doesn’t go back out!
Make great friends and memories
Whether you get a group of your friends together to go cleanup your favorite beach spot, or join one of the many great organizations that coordinates beach cleanups each month, you can make positive memories with friends old and new. If protecting the ocean and the environment is something you are passionate about, get outside of your comfort zone and join a group cleanup. It is a great way to meet other people who share your passions. I have met some of the nicest and friendliest people attending cleanups. People are always stoked to meet someone else who actively shares their passion for the environment!
Beach cleanups are great exercise
Carrying buckets of garbage in the sand is an excellent workout that is sure to get your heart pumping and your body sweating. If you don’t have a grabber, which I highly recommend if you plan on frequently doing beach cleanups, you will be doing a lot of squats to pick up garbage. Most organized beach cleanups last about two hours, a great amount of time for a workout out in the fresh, salty air. It’s a fantastic way to start the day!
You can be the change
It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives and get stuck behind our computer’s keyboard. If you want to see a difference in the world, be the difference. It’s as simple as that. Participating in a beach cleanup is a rewarding experience, and if you have never done one, I am sure you will be shocked by the amount of garbage you will find.
Beach cleanups are a great time for introspection
Whether you are cleaning up the beach on your own or with a group, a beach cleanup is a great time to analyze your own choices when it comes to both consumption and disposal. When you actually see first hand the amount of garbage carelessly left behind, it may lead you to reexamine your own choices. Being conscious of our own consumption, and what happens to our own garbage can lead us to make changes that lower our own footprint.
You can raise awareness
Raising awareness about the plight of the fragile shore ecosystems is important. Many people thoughtlessly extinguish their cigarette butts in the sand, and leave them behind, probably thinking it’s just me, no biggie. But when many people adopt this mentality, that is when the beaches become, for lack of a better word, gross. I think it’s a great idea to photograph garbage as you cleanup. Take pictures of the amount of cigarette butts you find, or the weirdest item you find. Then share, share, share! Share across all your social media platforms! People by nature are very visual creatures, so actually showing instead of telling is a fantastic way to raise awareness to the issue of beach litter. Maybe, just maybe, someone will think twice before leaving behind a styrofoam cup, or not disposing of fishing line properly because of an image or experience you share.
Beach cleanups are a ton of fun, and even though summer is almost over, many groups organize beach cleanups year round. Whenever you get the opportunity, I strongly urge you to spend a morning or afternoon doing a beach cleanup!
Check out some of these South Florida organizations to see when they are doing their next beach cleanup:
Before you hit the sand and surf, hit the app store on your smart phone and download a few apps that will enhance your beach experience.
Check Out the Waters
Magic Seaweed is a go-to web resource for any surf lover, and their easy to use app brings need to know info on the go. This app shows you real time wave heights and wind direction, helping you choose whether you are going to bring the paddle board or the surf board.
You can save and choose your favorite beach spots in the world if you sign up for an account, so you can compare and contrast the tides, charts, pictures, and other information.
If you need some saltwater surfspiration this app will truly give you that with tubular videos and other dynamic content.
Basic download is free, create an account to utilize more of the app’s features.
Tides Near Me- Free app is simple, easy to use, and straightforward. Quickly select your location to see the last tide, the next tide, times for the sunrise and sunset, and times for the moonrise and moonset.
Tides Near Me also shows you the tidal forecast for the future week.
This app is free to download, but for $1.99 you can purchase an ad-free version.
This is a fun and exciting shark tracking tool! See if any of Ocearch’s tagged sharks are swimming near you!
Ocearch.org is a non-profit organization that provides nearly real-time information on large marine predators, such as Great White sharks and other shark species. Ocearch brings together some of the greatest research scientists throughout the world that collaborate to provide information about these magnificent creatures. Greater understanding about the habits and behaviors of sharks will yield more successful conservation efforts.
Follow the travels of Katharine the Great White, or Pablo the Mako Shark. It is truly amazing to see the distance these shark travel. You never know where they will be!
This app is not only a great resource for learning about jellyfish, but it also allows you to record your own jellyfish sightings!
Walking on the beach and see a washed up jellyfish? Snap a picture and upload information about your sighting. Snorkeling or diving a reef and run into some jellies? Record what you saw, so other beach goers can be aware of what is out there!
Even if you don’t plan on recording information, this app is crucial to having a safe day at the beach sans jellyfish stings.
This is a very important app to have on your phone if you are traversing nature in Florida, whether on land or sea. Invasive species cost Floridians an estimated $500 million a year, which is nothing compared to the ecological problems that they create.
If you see an invasive species, such as a lion fish or ball python, record it in this app. This information will help to determine how advanced an infestation of an invasive species is, and hopefully help to remedy the issue and to protect indigenous species and ecosystems.
This is a great way to record any nature you want- plants, mammals, insects- whatever you see!
This fun app is a social network of other likeminded nature lovers that record their observations. Peruse guides, such as the Caribbean Coral Reef Food Web, or find your location on the map to see what has been spotted near you!
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is your quintessential beach town. Its quaint shops, casual restaurants, dive bars, and boutique hotels create a charming small-town atmosphere. Nestled 33 miles south of Palm Beach and 30 miles north of Miami, LBTS offers a low-key and laid-back experience in the coastal heart of South Florida.
The Shore-t Story
Parking: There are many different options for parking in LBTS. Recommended parking for the beach is in El Prado Parking lot and the grass lot next to it, located just north of Commercial Boulevard. Here it is $1.50 per hour, or $10 for all day. Other options included metered parallel parking, restaurant valet, parking lots on the west side of A1A, or the parking lot near the pier.
Refreshments: There are many restaurants within walking distance if you get hungry, but if you are just beaching it, it is recommended to bring your own refreshments.
Picnicking/Grilling: There are no picnic tables or grill spots near the LBTS beach. There are two covered gazebos or the grassy area at El Prado Park, but most picnicking here will be done on the actual beach.
Restrooms: The public restrooms are located behind Town Hall, which is a decent walk from the beach. This could prove problematic for anyone with small children or a bathroom emergency.
Fishing: Anglin’s Fishing Pier open 24 hours
Snorkeling/Diving: Excellent spot; the SS Copenhagen is a popular dive spot near the Sea Watch Restaurant, as is the BioRock Reef south of the pier
The entire town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is situated on a barrier island, meaning that on one side of the town is bordered by the intracoastal waterway, and the other side is the ocean.
Towards the end of the 2013-2014 season, aesthetic renovations to the town center were completed. Many people may have stopped going to LBTS because of the inconveniences of the construction, but worry not, because they are done and they have created many fun spots throughout the town where you can relax with family.
Murals and sculptures of sea life can be found throughout the town, every utility box is colorfully painted, and no bike rack is an eye sore. These details found throughout the town add to the charm that can only be found in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
Seasonal flags are found on all street lights. Some announce town events, like their local farmer’s market.
This pavilion near the town center grants shaded access to a stunning view of the beach and pier. All of the benches are repurposed boats!
Extending from the pavilion, this paved area is lined with colorful Adirondack chairs, and umbrellas. Beachgoers utilized the space to play bags and giant Jenga.
The town center meets at El Mar Drive and Commercial Boulevard. For any holiday, LBTS is very festive.
This is the round-about of LBTS. On any corner of the round-about, you will find shops and dining.
A zoom in on the pelican sculpture that is situated in the middle of the roundabout. A group of real pelicans flies by in the distance.
A tropically painted utility box in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
This is a fishy bicycle rack!
Tip: All of the hotel accommodations in LBTS are boutique hotels, which are perfect for large groups to rent out. They might not satisfy those looking for glitz and glamour, but will be a comfortable fit for those looking for a low-key vacation.
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s beach provides ample room for any beach activity. It is a wide beach, so unless it is a super busy day, there is usually enough room to spread out and not crowd onto someone else’s beach blanket.
Just north and south of the pier will usually be the largest concentration of people, even though you are supposed to stay at least 300 feet away from the actual pier when you are in the water. Go south of the pier if you want to snorkel the BioRock Reef; go just north of the pier if you are looking for a fun atmosphere near the town center.
From El Prado Park access point looking south. The beach is nice and wide.
Beautiful shore and water.
Looking from the pier north to Lighthouse Point.
Looking from the pier south to Fort Lauderdale beach.
As you continue north on the beach away from the town center, the upbeat tempo of reggae beats from a restaurant’s musician will fade away, and you will be left with the sound of the ocean waves and the faint chatter of the beach crowd.
Even in this area north of the pier where there is not a reef, you can still snorkel and see many different fish just offshore. Snorkeling directly offshore LBTS is great for beginners.
The other area that becomes concentrated with people is the access point at El Prado park. Across from El Prado park are two decent sized parking lots for daytrippers. El Prado Park is a nice grassy area good for picnicking or playing frisbee, and it is framed by colorful adirondack chairs and umbrellas. There are two gazebos that offer shade and some excellent people watching.
View of El Prado Park from the El Prado Parking Lot, just north of the town center.
El Prado Park features two gazebos, a bike rack, and many Adirondack chairs and umbrellas for relaxing. The lawn is a nice spot for picnics or yoga.
If you exit the beach from this access point, follow the sidewalk through the El Prado lot, and then cross A1A, you will find the LBTS public restrooms.
Showers can be found at this access point and at the beach entrance near the pier and beach pavilion.
Colorful Adirondack chairs underneath the gazebo are an excellent place to watch the sunrise.
A seating area with recycling.
Looking at El Prado park.
The inviting beach entrance to LBTS.
This beach does not have lifeguards. They do have life rings available just in case, but everyone here is swimming at their own risk.
Would we classify this beach as being family friendly? Yes and no. Yes, if you are on vacation and have your own hotel room, with an accessible toilet and air conditioning. No, if you are a daytripper, because there are no lifeguards and no public restrooms in a comfortable vicinity. We would recommend Pompano Beach, just north of LBTS, that features a playground, bathrooms, lifeguards, and refreshments, for daytrippers with small children.
The pier in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Anglin’s Fishing Pier, is open 24 hours so no matter your work or vacation schedule is you can get your fishing fix. It costs $7 per adult fisher. Common catches include snook, snapper, mackerel, bluefish, and more. With the reef being just south of the pier, in the deepwater part of the pier you are able to catch a variety of fish.
If you are not a fisherman or fisherwoman, the LBTS pier offers great views of the Lighthouse Point lighthouse, Fort Lauderdale beach, and plenty of wildlife. It is a $2 fee for sightseers. Bring a camera!
Remember to stay at least 300 feet away from the pier when you are swimming!
Everyone enjoys the view!
At the end of the pier, the ocean blue begins.
Tip: We recommend this local secret for down-to-earth beach destination weddings, couples, and older family get-togethers.
The Diving and Snorkeling
There are two main spots to dive in “The Shore Diving Capital of the World.” Shore diving means that the reefs are a short swim from the shore, and boats are not needed to access them.
The BioRock Reef
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea features the first of its kind fisheries restoration project that utilizes a technology called BioRock. In a nutshell, the BioRock technology speeds up the growth of a coral reef by mimicking reefs natural growth in order to replenish dying reefs and marine life populations. Steel structures are installed and charged by solar energy that attracts and propels the growth of limestone over them.
The BioRock Reef is excellent for all levels of snorkelers and divers, and this pilot project provides a great opportunity to see a variety of fish and marine life. Being a strong swimmer is highly recommended, as the maximum depth is around 12 feet. Often times people will dive/snorkel off of a kayak or paddle board.
This reef attracts a lot of fish and marine life, and offshore in any part of LBTS you will at the very least see a few different species of fish if the visibility is good.
The SS Copenhagen Shipwreck
In 1900, the steam-ship schooner SS Copenhagen hit a reef and became stranded carrying almost 5000 tons of coal. The crew attempted to salvage the cargo, but the ship ended up being left behind. The ship remained visible above water until World War II, when it was used for target practice, ultimately causing it to sink. Most of the machinery was salvaged, but the features of the ship are still visible. The bow now sits separate from the ship after an excavation attempt gone awry.
The SS Copenhagen is a protected state underwater archeological preserve.
Throughout Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, we found a variety of recycling receptacles! Unfortunately, they were not always in use. LBTS sometimes has a lot of leftover trash from weekend revelers. If you don’t pick it up, no one else is going to, except maybe a hungry bird.
Pier goers also have to make an effort to secure their trash, especially plastic bags, that can easily be blown away and into the ocean by the breeze.
We appreciate LBTS taking the steps to attempt to promote recycling, but it takes the beach goers to make this plan came to fruition.
If you had the pleasure of enjoying the beach, let the next person have the pleasure of enjoying the beach without your trash.
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.
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 Ratonthat 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
Abandoned children’s sand toys
Shotgun shell (?!?)
Cables and electrical wires
Styrofoam cooler chunks
A closed plastic zip tie. As a human, I have struggled severing strong plastic such as this, so imagine what it would do to a bird or turtle.
A cable wire.
This is a twist off cap from a popular children’s drink. It is never too early to teach a child how to properly dispose of their garbage.
This bag features a fantastic assortment of what we found, including the pick of the day.
A piece of a broken fishing pole.
It wouldn’t be a beach cleanup without finding tire…
More small plastics and fishing line.
A styrofoam and plastic food package found in the dunes.
The amount of garbage found within the first hour of the cleanup.
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.
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.