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Island coastal cleanup found small items are cluttering local beaches

By Staff | Sep 23, 2011

Deborah Phillips and her son, Matt, pick up trash along the beach on Captiva Island during the International Coastal Cleanup Day.

It came down to the small items on Saturday as islanders hit the beaches for International Coastal Cleanup on Sanibel and Captiva. As participants reported back to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Nature Center, many said there was just less garbage to pick up this year.

“We still found a lot of cigarette butts,” said Stephanie Weber, one in a group of 26 volunteers from Bank of the Islands that cleaned up Nerita Beach on W. Gulf Drive. “Overall there was less garbage, though.”

Dee Serage-Century, SCCF’s Living with Wildlife Educator, said she thinks the decrease in large garbage items is party due to more of city presence along the beaches, as well as sea turtle volunteers and shellers on the beaches daily.

“People are always picking up big trash items as they’re out checking the sea turtle nests or looking for shells,” she explained.

While there was less garbage to be found, there was also no monofilament or fishing line reported near popular fishing areas. It seems anglers are taking heed to the message of the dangers of monofilament to wildlife.

Alex Basse volunteers for International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

“It was a successful day,” said volunteer Kate Sergeant, who participated with her family husband Stuart and children Charlie, Jack and Henry to clean up at beach access six. “We mostly found water bottles, plastic bags and wrappers.”

The biggest item the Sergeant family found were crab traps, which had probably washed ashore due to strong breeze and current conditions. For the 8th year, Canterbury High School participated in the International Coastal Cleanup on Sanibel Island. The group of 15 students ranging from freshmen to seniors came to the islands in support of cleaner beaches.

“It important for us to give back and support environmental projects like this one,” said Canterbury English teacher Craig Phimister. “”It sets a good example (for the students) that we should care about the environment, especially our beaches.”

SCCF board president Paul Roth said the event went well and was glad to see the beaches were “relatively” clean from Blind Pass to Bowman/Turner beaches.

“People islanders and visitors — are more concensious about debris along the beaches,” he said.

After spending the morning cleaning shorelines and dunes, volunteers returned to the SCCF Nature Center for lunch provided by Bailey’s General Store. There was a spread of cookies, chips, watermelon and a hot grill full of hot dogs complete with all the trimmings available.

“The turn out was excellent,” Roth said. “It shows great spirit by islanders and its visitors.”

This event was in coordination locally with Keep Lee County Beautiful and internationally with Ocean Conservancy, making it a global event that unties thousands of volunteers every year under the common cause of raising awareness about litter prevention and clearing coastlines all across the world of dangerous marine debris.