Clean Coast is a Savannah based, non-profit, volunteer organization that holds monthly beach and marsh cleanups on the Georgia Coast. Mom got to meet some the volunteers when they took her, other turtle volunteers, and their gear over to Wassaw Island. They have a 24ft skiff that was a pleasure to ride in and while Mom sat back and enjoyed the ride, the Clean Coast volunteers told her their story.
Not many people know that the Georgia coast is one of the last extensive undeveloped shorelines in the U.S. This unfortunately has not spared it from having all sorts of marine debris wash upon it shores continuously. This debris threatens wildlife, in addition to plant life. Plus, debris on the beach is harmful to humans who walk along the beach. The site of a debris filled beach makes Mom sad because she knows that people around the world are constantly throwing trash into the oceans. This type of behavior must stop if we are to save the animals and plants that call the beach home.
Clean Coast estimates they pick up an average of 800 - 1,000 lbs of trash per cleanup. Wow -that's a lot of trash! They do at least one cleanup per month and they are heading to Wassaw Island on September 19 for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Loggerhead hatchlings may still be emerging at this time, but the hatchlings typically emerge after dark when the cleanup crew will be long gone with their haul of trash. The beach will then be clean for the little hatchlings to make their way to the ocean.
Last year the Clean Coast crew spent September 22 on Skidaway Island, the island that Mom leaves from to get to Wassaw. The crew was scheduled to cleanup Wassaw but the tides were not favorable, so they worked their magic on an area of Skidaway called Priest Landing and hauled away 1,200 pounds of trash from 1/2 mile of shoreline. This is just a partial list of what they collected:
95 cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons
35 plastic bags
143 plastic beverage bottles & 110 glass beverage bottles
81 beverage cans
2 shotgun shells
14 articles of clothing/shoes
12 oil/lube bottles
112 pieces of styrofoam
1 lip gloss
All of this and more on just 1/2 mile of shoreline. Yikes! Wassaw is much bigger and probably contains a lot more trash as seen by Mom every year she has been going there. Everything from a pilot house from a boat (it has been there since Mom started going to Wassaw in 2002), to toilets, to buckets, many balloons, and even a refrigerator. The refrigerator is gone, but new stuff washes ashore each high tide. Some of the stuff washed back out, but a lot of it remains.
Littering is an inexcusable action. Trash cans exist for a reason, so if you see someone littering, please remind them that trash belongs in a trash can. If no trash can is available, please ask them to hold on to their trash until they find a trash can or take their trash yourself and dispose of it later. Littering is Mom's biggest pet peeves and it angers her that people still do it. Trash that is disposed of improperly is not simply out of sight, out of mind. It all ends up somewhere and that somewhere may be in your own backyard. It may even affect the food you eat because lots of marine animals mistakenly ingest ocean floating debris.
If you are in the Savannah area and would like to participate in a beach cleanup with Clean Coast, please check out their schedule at www.cleancoast.org. If you are not in the Savannah area, but you live near a beach or river, please find a cleanup group to help. Trash is our problem, but we are the solution. We can and will clean up for the greater good. We will succeed in ending the trash brigade. And we will make a cleaner future for all to enjoy.