Friday, August 24, 2012

A trashy wrack line in zone 3

Isn't it surprising what a gray and rainy August we have had? This morning (Friday, August 24) the sun peeped through the clouds for a few moments, but then was hidden again, as the cloud thickened and the skies became stormy.

Today, because of all of the rainy weather this week, there was very little evidence of recent activity on the beach. One green inflatable raft washed up at the shore line, and there were a few sand toys. But other than that, I did not find a lot of trash from beach-goers. What I did find, however, was an enormous amount of trash that had washed up at the wrack line. As always, there was an overwhelming number of cigarette butts. It would have been a challenge for anyone to clean them up-- even a team of people with rakes. Other common items included bottle caps, band-aids, straw wrappers, and straws. From this one small patch of sea grass, I pulled 16 cigarette butts, so it is sad to imagine how many were all along the length of WB this morning.

My litter total for today was 1/2 of my reusable bag, which is equal to 2 plastic grocery bags of litter. This included:
-64 plastic bottlecaps
-2 aluminum cans
- 2 cigarette boxes
- 1 glass soda bottle
- 4 plastic utensils
- 422 cigarette butts
- 30 plastic straws
-4 balloons

I sorted my trash out next to the restrooms at Johnnie Mercer's Pier today. A man with a metal detector came along, watched me sort the trash into piles, and asked me what I was going to do with all the "stuff" I found. I told him I was going to sort it out, document it, then throw it away. He looked at me like I was completely crazy. But I guess sometimes people forget that knowing that we've helped out the ocean and all of its inhabitants is the "treasure" part of what we do.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Encouraging words from Michelle to "beach friends"

Good Morning,

On a rainy August 22 morning in Zone 0, I only found a few pieces of tissue, one plastic beach pail handle, and one cigarette butt. (1/4 bag)  Great job beach friends:)  Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer and keep up the good work.  Michelle

Nancy finds treasure too! :-)

Hi Ginger,
I've been a bit slack on submitting my trash reports lately, so here goes:
Zone 1, Thursday, 08/16/12:  This section was relatively clean and I collected only about 1/2 bag of trash.  It consisted mostly of plastic food wrappers, 2 cans, and broken beach toys.
Zone 5, Monday, 08/20/12:  Today, I cleaned about 1 bag of trash from the beach.  In Zone 5 I found a shirt, 2 socks, 3 balloons, lots of plastic wrappers and straws, a good sized wad of red fishing line, 3 wire-ties, and lots of bits of styrofoam.
Zone 2 on Tuesday, 08/21/12:  This morning I found so much trash in Zone 2!  The tide was higher than normal and there was an awful lot of litter in the wrack line and on the beach.  I collected a pair of flip-flops, a sheet, a towel, a broken beach umbrella and about 4.5 bags of trash.  This included many straws and lids, lots of plastic wrappers, plastic cups, 1 sock, many pieces of balloon, 1 wire-tie, several discarded and broken beach toys, yellow caution tape (just north of the Holiday Inn), a shower cap (seriously????), lip gloss, a mesh beach toy bag, and numerous straw wrappers.  
The waves also left behind many beautiful shells to be found on our beach this morning.  I felt rewarded by mother nature for cleaning the beach of trash as nearly every time I bent down to pick up litter, I often found a beautiful treasure, as well.
Hope you have a great week!

Celia enjoys a rainy walk in zone 0

I walked Zone Zero for Vickie this morning.  When I left my condo, it was not raining, but by the time I got to Shell Island Resort, the rain was coming down.  I normally pick up trash on my return trip, but didn't pick up any today because I had an iphone to protect.  :)  It was a nice walk because no one ventures out onto the beach at 6am to walk in the rain, so it was just me.  Lovely!  cbj

Another dirty diaper in zone 1 for Dick and Linda

Dick and I had one full bag and four stakes that we will pass on to Nancy.  Usual stuff - dirty diaper, wipes, straws and tops to plastic bottles. 
        Linda Chapman 

Cathy finds 1/2 a surf board in zone 4---anyone missing it???

Dear Ginger,
       I had a light day yesterday in zone 4.  A child's boggy board, half a surf board and a bag and a half of bottles and plastic bags.

Clem picks up 8 bags in zone 5

Hi Ginger,
About 8 full grocery bags today consisting of.
1 heavy, big, water-logged, sand-encrusted bedspread
2 beach towels
A 2-foot broken fishing pole
2 plastic fish baits
1 can chewing tobacco
Various small paper trash
+ the usual assortment of plastic bottles, beer bottles and soda cans.

Cathy finds a pile of 18 tablecloths and 10 napkins in zone 4

Dear Ginger,
       Wasn't last night awesome! (The nest boiled!) I walked last night and wanted to get this out to you.
      I picked up one beach chair.  Five sand toys.  A few bottles and some garbage one bag.  The big pile was 18 tableclothes and 10 napkins.  A full heavy trash bag.
Hope this helps

A sequence of "ones" in zone 0 for Michelle

Good Morning,

August 15th, Zone 0, just one plastic straw, one solo cup, one beach towel, one cigarette lighter, and last but certainly not least, ONE BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE:)

Only 1/2 bag full.  Michelle

John and Terri find interesting items in zone 1

Here is our trash report from the last 3 weeks.  Sorry for the delay.  I'll try to give you our best memories of what we collected, starting with today since that memory is the freshest.
We collected one full Harris Teeter bag--water bottles, sand bucket straps (3;, broken sand toys (3); fireworks containers with an unknown object nearby (looked like a small, charred, wire whisk broom?); baseball cap; tee shirt; tampon (will not describe); thin sanitary pad (in a different location); assorted plastic cups; many straws, bottle caps, and wrappers; small piece of rubber tubing; sunglasses, plastic; handi wipes; orange and lime peels/pieces; one blue nylon canopy carrier, empty.   No cigarette butts!?!?!?!?  (Maybe we didn't look hard enough. ) One wire canopy with nylon top.
Nest looked fine.

Last week was the morning of the storm so John and I split the walk so we could get off the beach quickly.  Didn't find too much as I recall, except for some goggles, 2 towels, a sand bucket. 
Collected the equivalent of 1.5 Harris Teeter bags with the usual assortment of items.  I do remember finding several tee shirts, single flip flops, 2 towels. 
We did see 2 older dogs running along the beach and back and forth from the dunes, no owner in sight.  Couldn't see if they had any tags. 

Turtle Lady, Jenny Johnston subs in zone 5

Hi Ginger,

I subbed for Clem, Zone 5,  on August 2, Thursday.  One grocery bag.  Mostly styro took up the space: top of a takeout container, 2 lg. cups (at far south end close to Coast Guard station) and a couple of kid sand toys. Not too much trash along the strand, surprisingly.  But, of course, the usual cigarette butts.


Kim finds a case of water in zone 1---that is 12 plastic bottles

Name : Kim Meyer
Zone : 1
Date Walked : Sunday, 8/12/2012
# Grocery Bags : 2

Luckily I got on the beach early because a storm was quickly approaching.  I tried to hurry so I did not pick up as much trash as usual.  However the beach wasn't too bad since the prior day had been overcast (and possibly raining, I don't recall) as well.  Also I didn't see any towels scattered about at Shell Island.  Not sure if that was due to weather or if they finally gave up on the courtesy beach towels.

I did find a case of water that was pretty much untouched that I carried from Shell Island to Holiday Inn.  I'll make sure they get properly recycled.

Record low in zone 0

We had a plastic cup lid and one scrap of paper. This is the smallest amount we have ever found.
Abrons, Butler and Doss

Rick and Jill continue the good work

Hi Ginger,
Following is the update for the week of 8/13:
8/14: Zone 4 - 1 filled grocery bag of cans/plastic bottles
8/17: Zone 0 - 1/2 grocery bag of cut bait, plastic bottle and lots of bottle caps
Have a great weekend!


Amber cleans up zone 2

I filled up one reg sized paper grocery bag FULL. so much trash this past Tuesday :(  (This would equal 3 plastic grocery store size bags)


Nicole catches us up on zone 2

Zone 2 Friday Aug 10th  1 plastic grocery bag full of trash
Did not walk Aug 3rd
Zone 2 Friday July 27th 1 plastic grocery bag full of trash


Two weeks = 8 bags of trash for John and Ginger in zone 4

We are almost at the end of sea turtle nesting season and the time seems to fly by.  I will miss walking the beach early on Monday mornings in excited anticipation of finding sea turtle tracks.

I always think I may continue to get up and go pick up trash, but history has shown that I usually don't. Don't get me wrong---I still pick up trash, but not on a weekly scheduled basis and I will miss seeing the ocean in the early morning light.

It is the rhythmic nesting ritual of the ancient sea turtle that has now created this rhythmic ritual for me to more consciously take care of my Ocean.  I thank the sea turtle and the Earth for all the gifts they give to me including the gift of awareness.

As far as my trash reports go, I am once again behind for two weeks; so here they are:

On August 13th, John and I collected 5 bags of trash.  Listed below is some of what we collected:

9 cigarette butts
5 plastic bottles
3 plastic bags

4 articles of clothing (one gap shirt that I may be keeping for me---treasure!)
8 toys or toy pieces
6 ziploc bags
1 lighter
1 plastic flosser (I hate these)
1 pair of nice swim goggles
17 straws
1 plastic knife
11 plastic bottle caps
1 metal bottle cap
1 aluminum can
7 shoes
4 plastic cups
3 plastic lids

Watching the sun wake up in the morning never gets old!   .....but Gigi sometimes gets bored watching me sort the trash.   (she probably thinks I'm nuts!!)

On Monday, August 20th, I walked without John and collected 3 bags of trash.  I did not take pictures on this day b/c the weather looked threatening and I did not want to risk damaging my camera.  It was too bad because at one point when the light was just so, I could have sworn that the ocean looked a soft hue of purple---just beautiful!

It took me three attempts to sort and categorize my trash when I got home b/c each time I went outside to try, it would begin to thunder and lightening!  So again, I kept my camera inside.

The story of the morning was micro trash instead of the big items.  I could not believe all of the cigarette butts and especially the number of straws that were all along the tide line.  Had I only walked the tide line in each direction, I'm not sure how many straws I would have collected---it was amazing to me.

Below are my numbers:
99 cigarette butts
2 plastic bottles
13 toys or toy pieces
1 ziplock bag
1 pair of cheap sunglasses
43 straws
1 plastic knife
3 plastic spoons
1 plastic fork
32 plastic bottle caps
2 metal bottle caps
1 plastic cup
3 plastic lids


Friday, August 17, 2012

Jumping fish in Zone 3

For the second week in a row, I am pleased to report that the litter was not too bad in Zone 3. As always, the most persistent item was cigarette butts. I also found a large number of small, clear plastic straw wrappers-- the kind that come on juice boxes. Those are so small and light that I am sure they frequently just blow right off of people's picnic areas.

Today I collected a total of 1/2 of my reusable bag of litter, which is equal to 2 plastic grocery bags. In the interest of time, I did not count my trash items today. I did, however, remove both aluminum cans and plastic water bottles from my bag and place them in the recycling bins by Johnnie Mercer's Pier.

One rather amazing thing that I witnessed today was what appeared to be a very large school of fish that were jumping out of the water. They were moving southward, and since they were swimming parallel to shore, I was able to watch them for a good half mile or so. I wasn't able to catch a good photo, because they were so fast, but you can kind of see one of the jumping fish in the photo below.

I also took a short walk along WB yesterday evening with my husband, and my mother in law, who is currently visiting us from Washington DC. As we walked, I stooped to pick up a straw wrapper, and a gentleman who was also walking down the beach held out a plastic bag to me. "Are you picking up litter?" I asked. He replied that he was, and explained that he frequently walks from one end of the beach to the other for exercise, and picks up trash as he goes. It made me happy to meet a kindred spirit, and I told him about this blog. Hopefully he will find it!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A rainbow and a toppled trashcan in zone 3

On Friday, August 10, I was happy to have a special guest with me as I walked in zone 3. My mom, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, was visiting Wilmington for a few days, and joined me for the morning. We were wary, as I am sure everyone else was all week, of the looming storm clouds and not-so-distant thunder and lightning. We did really luck out, though, in that we just got a sprinkling before we made it back to my car. (It was QUITE a different story when we were at the beach on Tuesday evening. Wow, that was such a powerful downpour!) We had enough time to take in the cool pre-storm breeze, Mom found a nice piece of sea foam green colored sea glass, and we even saw a beautiful rainbow.

Overall, Friday was not a very bad day at all for litter in zone 3. My mom and I collected 2 plastic grocery bags worth. We found some brand new sand toys (we know they were brand new because we also found their bags and price tags nearby) that we decided to leave on one of the public benches in hopes that they would be reclaimed.

Because it was starting to rain steadily at the time we left, we opted to place our trash and recyclables in the bins by Johnnie Mercer's Pier, rather than bringing them home and sorting them. Recyclables included 8 plastic water bottles and 3 soda/beer cans. Most of the litter was fairly indistinguishable bits of plastic, and many clear plastic straw wrappers. The strangest litter we found was a small pile containing a bra, panties, and a pair of shorts. So, I guess maybe someone left the beach with just a shirt on? The only really nasty mess we encountered was next to a toppled trashcan. But, it only took us a few minutes to right the can and pick up around it. (I did not include any of those items in our litter total for the day.)


Celia and the "lobster boxers"!

Can't remember what dates I've reported, but I walked July 25, August 4th and August 11.  Today, 8/11, the beach was spotless except for a few pieces of paper and a couple of broken buckets.  July 25th, I collected two Keep It Clean canvas bags of trash and two beach towels.  I donate the beach towels to Friends of Felines.  August 4th was my most interesting walk because I found a guy's festive lobster boxers in the sand.  I'm guessing he's still wondering where they are, or if they were a gift from Mom,  he's glad he lost them.  :)

2 weeks and 4 zones for Rick and Jill

Hi Ginger,
So sorry for the late report I never got sent last week!!  My family arrived last Friday -- and our life hasn't been the same since : )
Week of 7/30:
Tuesday, 7/31: Zone 4: - 1 full grocery bag - plastic bottles and odds/ends
Friday, 8/3: Zone 0: Very little trash - nice morning
Week of 8/6:
Tuesday, 8/7: Zone 4 - no trash pick up because so much rain
Friday, 8/10: Zone 0- the messy vacationers were in town at Shell Island, lots of beer cans, bottles, water bottles, wrappers, etc.  to overfill a grocery bag
We were so sorry to have missed the boil and the excavation - but happy that the WB turtle babies are on their way home!
Have a great weekend!


Nancy cleans around Johnnie Mercer Pier on 8/7 & 8/8.

Good morning Ginger,
On Tuesday, 08/07, I walked Zone 2 and collected 5 grocery store size bags of trash.  This included flip flops, broken styrofoam, a broken wire tie, plastic wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic cups, one can, sand shovels, straws, two balloons, and other various sorts of trash.  I also took three broken chairs to the cans as well as one towel and one sand pail.  The area around Johnnie Mercer's Pier was absolutely disgusting.  Most of the above mentioned litter was collected from there.  The amount of trash discarded under and around the area was mind-boggling.  I was unable to pick up on the south side of the pier because of time constraints, however, the sight of the trash littering the beach there made me feel ill.
On Wednesday, 08/08, I walked Zone 3 and picked up about 1.5 bags of trash.  Perhaps there was less to be found due to the recent rainy weather and fewer people on the beach.  My booty for the day included 5 flip flops, 5 balloons (water balloons, to be exact :() lots of plastic wrappers, a bathing suit bottom (huh???), broken toys, bottles, cups, cans, straws, and broken styrofoam pieces.  I placed one broken chair by the trash cans, as well.  
Have a great week!

On Tuesday in Zone 2, I also picked up a broken boogie board and placed that in the cans, as well.  Please add this info to my report for the week!  :)

Clem keeps our beach clean while thinking of our new baby hatchlings

Hey Ginger,
The beach was relatively clean today, surprisingly. Also fewer people so maybe the early summer beach enthusiasm is starting to wane? In any event, I picked up
1 grocery bag consisting of assorted plastic including 1 water bottle, an empty tin of Vienna sausages (another eco-unaware fisherman) and a beach towel.
I must confess to feeling bittersweet as I passed the nest, knowing they’re no longer “here”, but out at sea now fighting the odds......

Another week in zone 0 brings more trash for Michelle

After a wonderful and successful time at Nest #1, I walked Zone 0 on the 8th of August.  Even with all the rain we have had there was a good bit of trash this morning.  I picked up: 12 straws, 9 cigarette butts, 7 plastic cups (4 with lids), lots of paper tissues, three plastic water bottles, 1 Budweiser beer can, two beach towels, a panty liner, a cigarette lighter and one pair of sunglasses.  About 2 bags full.   Michelle

Michelle picks up in zone 0 in spite of the storm


I walked Zone 0 extra early on the morning of August 1 to beat the storm that was coming!  I found 1 plastic straw, 8 cigarette butts, 1 plastic toy shovel, 2 plastic handles from toys, 1 container of Skoal, 2 green bottle tops, 1 towel, and several pieces of paper.  About 1/2 bag of trash.  Have a great day.

more towels at Shell Island, cans in the sand, and recycling concerns at WB

Name : Kim Meyer
Zone : 1
Date Walked : Sunday, 7/29/2012
# Grocery Bags : 5

There was a lot more trash than usual on Sunday in zone 1.  I counted 10 plastic bottles and 16 beer cans.  Someone must have been denial because I spotted a portion of a beer can half buried in the sand.  As I dug it out, I noticed another, and another, and another, etc.  In all there were 13 buried beer cans in one small area.  It made me wonder why they went to so much trouble to bury them when they could have at least thrown them in the trash if they were too lazy to take them to be recycled.  

I also found a float that is usually used in the pool and a small boogie board. I also found 3 of those net bags that are usually from toy as well as a lot of toys.

  And of course 16 towels at Shell Island resort.

   There also were two ant holes in the outer area of the nest in zone 1.  I covered them up.

Then on the way back I spotted what I thought was garbage but turned out to be a dead seagull.  Lucky for me I had found a large kid's shovel and was able to carry it to the beach public access # 3 and bury it.  I marked the grave with a 'B' just in case Lindsay or someone from Audubon needed to check it out.  I attached pictures just in case as well. Of course now it's Monday and the B is probably gone.

I have a question about the recycling at WB.  I normally sort out what I can and cannot recycle as I'm walking.  What I can't, obviously I throw away.  What I can, I take to recycling as I leave the beach. I noticed an article recently (I believe it was in the Lumina News) that the recycling center at WB is only for residents.  So I'm wondering if the expectation is that I spend 2 hours on Sunday mornings cleaning up trash at WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH and then I carry it home and recycle it at the center which is not really that close to my house.  I take my personal recycling usually to the one by Noble and not to WB. 

It seems to me that the point of recycling is being missed.  I'm just thrilled that people do it and I could careless where they take it to recycle it.  If people aren't permitted to drop off their recycling at the beach after they paid $20 in a meter to enjoy the beach a few hours and they don't take it home then it will either go in the trash to be sent to a landfill or it is left on the beach and could easily wash out to sea.  I'm sure it costs the town money to take care of the recycling but I also think there's a much bigger picture here.

John and Terri in zone 1

     This report is for our monitoring of Zone 1 on Tuesday, 17 July and Tuesday, 24 July.  On the 17th, we collected only 1/2 bag of trash (the standard Harris Teeter throw away plastic bag).  There was nothing remarkable about what we picked up - the usual wide array of plastics and some paper.  Yesterday, we found 1 1/2 bags of trash - many plastic bottles, sand toys, aluminum can, towel, and a bra top (must be a story there).  On both weeks, we also inspected the nest in our zone and all appered well.
                                                                                                                                     John and Terri Littlejohn

volunteers are Keeping It Clean in zone 0

We had about  a small bag of trash this morning in zone 0.

Abrons, Butler, Doss and a visiting couple from Atlanta.

Dick and Linda find tents in zone 1

  MONDAY, 30 July:  We had one full bag of trash plus Dick found a new pair of sunglasses.  There were two tents in front of access 5.  They would have been too difficult to take down as they were very well set in.  I wonder if anyone patrols the beach at night and if they do, why they don't take the tents down?   
                Dick and Linda Chapman

As we know, tent structures can deter turtles from nesting and can also pose entanglement issues.  Not to mention they sometimes wash out to sea.  We posted photos earlier on this blog of volunteer, John Marcucci retrieving a tent structure with its attached bag out of the ocean waves.~Ginger

August 6, 2012--balloons and bandaids in zone 4

As we walked onto the beach this morning, we were surprised to see all of the overflowing trash-cans.  Usually there are a few cans overflowing at the most popular access points, but today almost all the cans were overflowing with just a few that were not.

However, we only picked up 5 bags of trash.  I say "only 5 bags" because we usually get more on Monday mornings in zone 4, but really, isn't 5 bags just too many in one small zone?  I think so.  I can't wait for the Monday morning when I write that I only found 1 bag of trash in zone 4.  I'm still hopeful because I do believe that people are becoming more aware of their impact on the Earth and are making small changes everyday that will make a difference.

Sometimes we pick up a lot of small items that do not fill up our bags quickly.  That was the case today as we found lots of bandaids, bottle caps, and way too many balloons!

Balloons are harmful to the environment and we know that sea turtles will often mistake them for food.  Please check out the information on to see photos of balloons that have actually been excreted by sea turtles.

Balloons passed by Sea Turtle Hospital patient, Shackleford III (photo is courtesy of

You can also see this picture of plastic pieces that were passed by a sea turtle at the hospital.  The fate of this sea turtle was a very sad one.  Please please spread the word about refusing and reducing plastic consumption.  It never biodegrades and it ends up in the stomachs of vulnerable animals.

ocracokeII plastic22712.jpg
Plastic pieces passed by Sea Turtle Hospital patient, Ocracoke II (photo is courtesy of  Coin used for scale.

Some of the contents in our 5 bags included:

37 cigarette butts
14 toys or toy pieces
43 plastic bottle caps
1 metal bottle cap
3 aluminum cans
6 plastic cups
2 clothing articles (one hat and one rotten sock)
2 flip flops (they did match, but had obviously been left)
3 plastic cup lids
29 straws
19 balloons or balloon pieces
1 tennis ball (I gave it to my rescue dog, Gigi while she watched me sort the trash.  She was very happy about it.  If you are wondering why she is on the pink blanket--also found on the beach several weeks ago---it is because the ground was wet from the rain and she would not lay on the wet grass!  She is so prissy!  I call her "Prissy Paws"  Geez!!!)

1 ziplock bag
2 plastic bags

4 plastic bottles
1 plastic knife
1 piece of plastic sushi grass (so unnecessary)
lots of other small plastic pieces  :-(

and as always a beautiful WB sunrise!

Friday, August 3, 2012

An overwhelming number of cigarette butts in Zone 3

Good news: not much large litter in Zone 3 today. Bad news: the wrack line and the dunes were in very bad shape. In fact, it pains me a bit just to think about how many small scraps of plastic and cigarette butts I could still see in these areas when I left the beach. Each time I bent down to pick up a cigarette butt, I found that I could pick up at least 6 or 7 more without even moving my feet. I was so astonished that I took a short video to capture the enormity of the problem.

Today, my litter total amounted to 1/2 of my reusable bag, which is equal to 2 plastic grocery bags. A large portion of it was indistinguishable bits of plastic, and much of it looked like it has already spent some time out at sea, such as this portion of a styrofoam egg container. Items that I counted included:

- 4 sand toys
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 2 stray sandals
- 2 beer cans
- 3 plastic water bottles
- 7 plastic utensils
- 29 plastic straws
- 51 plastic bottle caps
- 330 cigarette butts