Friday, July 25, 2014

A peek from the Sun…..

July 21, 2014

The alarm goes off around 5:15 AM on Monday mornings at our house during the summer.  Why? Because we are dedicated sea turtle volunteers and we must get to the beach to walk our zone just in case a mother turtle came to lay her eggs while we were sleeping.  We always have hope, but this morning was not to be….

It doesn't matter to us; because it is always nice to start the work week off with a beautiful WB sunrise, even if we don't find a new nest.   The sunrises are always a little different, but never dull.  This morning was cloudy, but the sun still managed to glimpse a peek at this new day.  It was as if the Sun was letting everything and everyone know that it was still there and to not worry about a little cloudiness…..

As far as litter goes---it is generally the same.  Unlike nests, we never doubt we will find it and we always do!

Here are our finds for today:

10 cigarette butts
64 food wrappers or pieces of wrappers (12 of which are straw sleeves from juice pouches)

14 plastic bottle caps
2 metal bottle caps
7 plastic lids
25 straws/stirrers
6 plastic beverage bottles
1 aluminum can
2 plastic grocery bags
4 other plastic bags
4 plastic cups
4 foam cups
1 piece of rope
1 piece of fishing buoy
1 PVC fishing pole holder
1 balloon
1 cigar tip
7 fireworks & then the packaging

7 foam pieces
25 plastic pieces
22 other plastic/foam packaging
4 cigarette packaging wrap
2 chap sticks
2 hair ties
4 bandaids
2 mismatched socks
16 toys
1 boogie board

John with his reusable bag filled with beach debris

1 bar of surf wax
1 surf board leash
4 sunglasses
5 shoes
2 baby wipes
1 tube of suncreen
1 can of spray sunscreen
3 zipties

Every Monday, we usually run into Rick, who also picks up trash.  Rick is not a KIC volunteer, but he is in our book!  He says he walks zone 4 most every morning!   Thank you Rick for caring and for putting that "caring" into "action"!

John and Rick clean the beach.

Gigi and Kahuna always look forward to sorting trash with me.  Kahuna especially loves the way the reusable trash bags smell.  He always lays on them when I dump them out.

Gigi will get to play with the tennis ball you see here.  She is a happy girl!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A steep cliff on north end

Friday, July 11

I was excited and happy to return to zone 0 after spending the Fourth of July weekend out of town. Thank you to volunteer Celia Jones for subbing for me while I was away!

I have been quite lucky with weather so far this summer. Although the sky was tumultuous, I somehow dodged the raindrops and had a lovely walk.

As I began walking north of Shell Island Resort, I was surprised to see that the beach has been dramatically reshaped by recent storms. There is a very steep escarpment now; in some places it is a good 12-to-14 feet tall.

The majority of the litter I found came from in front of Shell Island resort and around the mailboxes, which is very typical. I have been finding lots of plastic cups lately, and I sure do wish people would stop using them in favor of reusable cups and water bottles. 

 My litter total for the day included:
- 1 styrofoam cup
- 5 plastic cups
- 1 pair of broken sunglasses
- 2 plastic water bottles
- 1 plastic toy shovel
- 2 cans
- 1 glove
- 1 large piece of heavy plastic
- 1 firework

There was also a large clump of debris at the bottom of my bag that was caked with wet sand and not really sortable.

Friday, July 18

Another perfect Wrightsville Beach sunrise... they will never get old!!

Our mild version of the Polar Vortex was a welcome surprise on Friday morning. It was cool enough on the beach that I almost put on a sweatshirt, but opted instead to feel the chilly breeze. It was fantastic.

There was a decent amount of trash in front of Shell Island resort (including some of the hotel's towels, which I always just place up near the hotel rather than taking them or throwing them away). As I walked around cleaning up, a man approached with a large, unleashed Australian Shepherd. The dog was galloping about and obviously having a grand time. My stomach plummeted, as I really dread having to say something to the owners of dogs on the beach. I have a dog, too, so I understand why people think it is a good idea to bring your dog out early in the morning, before it gets dangerously hot and before crowds of people amass. 
The dog ran right up to the perimeter of the bird sanctuary, and I cringed at the thought of a chick getting chomped or trampled. Fortunately, the Aussie then noticed me and decided I was more interesting than the dunes. He galloped up to me and jumped up, so I took the opportunity to grab his collar and hold him until his owner approached. 
I said to the man, "Hi, I don't mean to be a jerk, because I have a dog, too, and I love them. But it's a federal offense if your dog harms one of the birds in that sanctuary, so you probably should not have him out here."
The man replied, "Oh, he can't catch them." 
I said, "Well, there are flightless chicks in there right now..."
The man responded, "Oh, I didn't know there were babies. Ok."
And much to my relief, he put the dog on a leash and began to walk him back to the parking lot. Phew!

Overall, there was more trash in zone 0 than I normally find. I filled my entire reusable bag and it was rather heavy. Some of the litter was unreachable because it was on the top of the escarpment, and sadly, it had to stay where it was. 


 My litter total for the day included:
-1 broken boogie board
- 9 plastic sand toys
- 2 plastic snack wrappers
- 2 cigarette butts
- 3 straws
- 1 long, heavy piece of rope
- 1 Ziplock bag
- 1 plastic bottle cap
- 1 McDonald's french fry box
- 2 straw wrappers
- 5 plastic cups
- 1 styrofoam cup
- 4 plastic bottles
- 1 glass bottle
- 1 round plastic container (probably from bait)


Friday, July 18, 2014

Beach Bunny

July 14, 2014

Today was a very quick walk because we were on a time crunch; thus we divided the walk in half.  John started on the north end and I started on the south.

Luckily, the beach was relatively clean; but I really think it was due to such a high tide caused by our July SUPER MOON!

Mother nature was so beautiful and quiet this morning.

Here are a few of the items we removed from the beach.

25 cig butts
59 food wrappers
21 bottle caps
15 straws/stirrers
1 balloon
1 cigarette lighter
1 cigar tip
7 fireworks
4 shoes
1 pair of reading glasses
13 toys
2 boogie boards
1 bed sheet
2 plastic bottles
5 plastic cups
bits and bobs of other items
…and one beach bunny as I was leaving the Crystal Pier access.

Sunglasses and Sea Shells

When I am by the sea, I really wish that time would slow down.

On July 7th, John and I were prepared to find lots of trash.  And, we did find some, but not as much as we expected.  What we did not expect to find were 12 pairs of sunglasses!  Yes! 12!  We are wondering if a shipment container broke or something.   Sadly, none fit me and all the lenses were severely scratched.

John found all the sunglasses and I was happy to find this beautiful shell.

Here are some of the items we collected today:
11 cig butts
69 food wrappers
21 bottle caps
7 plastic lids
25 straws/stirrers
10 aluminum cans
4 grocery bags
2 Ziploc bags
5 plastic cups
1 foam cup
1 diaper
1 sanitary napkin
2 towels
1 boogie board
1 swim goggles
1 dive mask
bits and bobs of other items!

All this trash sorting makes Kahuna go cross-eyed!  He is up for adoption!
I was also happy to toss this shell habitat back to the sea!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Balloons---Don't let them go!

June 30, 2014

I've been working with Bonnie Monteleone of the Plastic Ocean Project on a poster display for our sea turtle sculpture that is currently on hanging at The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Surf City.  (The sea turtle is made of trash that was picked up by KIC volunteers.)

Part of the poster focuses on sea turtles and balloons.  KIC has educated about balloons for years.  We know they are dangerous for the environment and specifically for sea turtles because they can resemble food when they (balloons) are in the ocean.  While doing tours at the hospital, I often tell kids about the sea turtles who have defecated balloons while being a patient at the sea turtle hospital.  I also remind kids that releasing balloons is actually the same as littering.  I hate to be a kill joy, but when you know, you change your ways, right?  I have certainly changed mine.

KIC has also educated about the entanglement issues with the balloons strings and ribbons.  Here is a photo from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that explains just how hazardous these strings can be to wildlife.

So…. you can imagine how frustrating I have been to have found balloons during every sea turtle nesting patrol I have done this season.  It is also frustrating to know that KIC volunteers have removed 54 balloons from Wrightsville Beach in less than two months and nearby Atlantic Beach has removed 194!

I found 4 balloons today.  The one pictured here actually had a light inside.  I'm sure that makes the balloons very "pretty" and "attractive" for those who are releasing them.  But, the balloon does not have the same effect once it has burst and has landed in our beautiful environment.

balloon on WB

Discovering that the same balloon has a light inside.  The light was still burning.
On one section of my patrol, I thought I saw a plastic bag in the dunes, but when I went to retrieve it, I found it was a mylar balloon. The balloon had been in the environment long enough for all of the color to be faded or washed away.  This would surely look like a jelly fish in the ocean to a sea turtle. 

Now that I have ranted about balloons, I have to say the beach was very pleasant this morning.  We found little trash and that is always nice.  It was low tide, so I am concerned that the trash may have been swept away during the high tide.  Nevertheless, it was a beautiful morning.

Here is the inventory of finds:

26 butts
26 food wrappers
15 plastic bottle caps
1 metal bottle cap
4 plastic lids
19 straws/stirrers
1 plastic spoon
6 plastic bottles
2 glass bottles
1 aluminum can
1 plastic grocery bag
3 other plastic bags
1 paper cup
2 foam cups
1 foam packaging
1 strapping band
2 tobacco packaging  
1 condom wrapper
2 baby wipes
2 dryer sheets
19 toys/pieces of toys
You may leave your sand castle, but please take your plastic one home with you.

4 balloons
1 piece of duct tape
1 rubber band
6 plastic zip ties
6 foam pieces
23 plastic pieces
43 paper pieces
1 chapstick
1 ace bandage
3 shoes
1 plastic lei
3 clothing chords (drawstring like)

Watching the sun rise over the ocean never gets old!

Our zone ends at Crystal Pier and it is always a great photo op.  
We love that Crystal Pier has placed a board at the bottom of their dining deck rail this year that further prevents straws, sugar packets, napkins, etc. from blowing off.  It has been much cleaner under and around the pier this year.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Small amounts of litter in zone 0

Friday, June 20

June 20 in zone 0 was an utterly picture-perfect day. Pelicans, gray herons and egrets all flew about, fishing for their breakfasts while crabs skittered toward the tide line. Beautiful.

 As I walked further north toward the end of the inlet, I felt really shocked by the state of the beach. With a combination of the low tide and the new sand from the recent renourishment project, there was a huge expanse of sand to walk on. These photos below were taken as I walked out toward the ocean and turned around to look at the beach strand. That is Shell Island Resort in the distance.

I thought that the expanse of beach would reveal a large amount of litter, but it really didn't. In fact, I found a pretty impressively small amount of garbage. My litter total for the day included:

-1 zip tie
-1 broken pair of sunglasses
-1 lighter
-1 straw
-2 bar admittance bracelets
-1 pair earplugs
-4 hair ties
-1 granola bar wrapper
-2 paper towels
-1 water bottle
-1 kitchen towel
-3 plastic bags
-1 ziplock bag
-1 pair goggles
-1 plastic bait lid
-1 plastic toy Indian
-2 cigarette butts

Friday, June 27

My husband Jeff joined me for early-morning trash pickup on June 27. We were both impressed by the glorious and very photogenic sunrise.

There was an unusually large amount of action on the beach for 6 a.m., including many paddle boarders, people illegally walking dogs, and lots of evidence of bird and crab activity. I also noticed that the north end nesting sea bird sanctuary is clearly marked and roped off for the first time this year, so I was relieved and happy to see that.

 My litter total for the day included:

-1 shoe
- 1 plastic cup
- 1 plastic water bottle
- 2 straws
- 4 cigarette butts
- 1 Yoo hoo box
- 1 headband
- 4 plastic food/snack wrappers
- 2 plastic bottle caps
-1 Lifesaver candy in plastic