Saturday, September 29, 2012

Big Sweep 2012/Everything We Do or Don't Do Matters!

We are all connected!  How many times have we heard or said that?  Today, I was reminded of this phrase yet again during the Big Sweep Event.

I, with the help of my willing husband, volunteered to work at one of the sign-in tables at WB.  I was at Access #43 which is also an access where you can go to see the wonder and the beauty of nesting sea birds.

John at Big Sweep
John KIC back--I am happy to be connected with this man!

John and I were joined by other KIC Volunteers and WBSTP Volunteers, Susan Miller and Nancy Fahey.  Susan picked up her new KIC volunteer shirt and wore it while she cleaned the beach!

Susan models the new KIC shirt at Big Sweep

Susan KIC back!

Susan said she refers to KIC as the sister volunteer organization to WBSTP.  I like being connected like that.

We were joined by retired WBPD Officer, Teresa Fountain.  As I listened to Teresa talk today, I realized just how much she cares for the Earth and all of it's inhabitants and how we all share that connection.  I like sharing that connection.

As we worked during the day, Katie Ryan, Director of WB Parks and Rec. stopped by several times to check on us and to pick up or drop off any needed supplies.  Katie is a vital part of advocating for a clean WB and she was certainly vital in keeping everything connected and flowing during today's event.  

Teresa Fountain, Katie Ryan and Nancy Fahey!  A connection of caring women!
The first volunteers to arrive today were members of Hoggard High School's Eco Club.  One of those members is Kailyn, who is also doing her senior project on the Endangerment of Sea Turtles.  Nancy and I are co-mentoring Kailyn for her project.  Now, isn't that a cool connection?

Kailyn will actually be working to organize her own Beach Sweep in a few weeks.  She has already connected with Katie about getting the permits that she needs to do that.

Kailyn at Big Sweep

Hoggard High School Eco Club Members
Hoggard High School Eco Club Advisor, Sarah Aimone holds one of the toys they found on the beach today.  A dinosaur---now think about how we are connected to this guy!

We worked hard today to clean the beach of litter so that we can all have a safer and healthier place where we can relax, play and visit.  But we had fun as well!  We could not help but laugh out loud at Nancy, who found the most peculiar item of the day---a ziploc bag full of unopened, unexpired condoms---31 condoms to be exact!  Now I think whoever left that bag started with some ambition---just wish he/she could have been more responsible about his/her responsible behavior!

Nancy looking happy about the bag of 31 condoms that she found on WB during Beach Sweep!
However, the day wasn't all about laughs as Nancy also found the remains of two sea birds.  One bird, a Black Skimmer, had obviously perished due to entanglement.  He had a fishing line that was completely wrapped around his beak, effectively tying his beak shut so that he could not eat.  The fishing line was also wrapped around his body and his wing.

The other bird was an American Oystercatcher and it was tagged.  YX  

Because of Nancy's connection as a volunteer with Audobon, she knew to call Lindsay Addison, biologist with Audobon, to report her discovery.  Lindsay was able to share that the Black Skimmer was a juvenile that had hatched on South Wrightsville Beach earlier this year.  The American Oystercatcher, YX was also a juvenile that had hatched on South WB.  Because YX was tagged, Lindsay knew that he was one of two chicks who had one parent that had become entangled in fishing line and was unable to help the other parent feed the chicks.  Oystercatchers depend on their parents for about 90 days for food.  Lindsay said that there was no way to determine for certain why YX died, but it is possible that he perished because the entangled parent was not able to help provide food for the chicks.

This is a very sad story and one that I wish did not have so much connection to the behaviors of humans, but it does.

But, the connection did not end there.  Nancy was able to speak to and educate many people today who saw the remains of the birds while we waited for Lindsay.  Nancy definitely made a connection with those to whom she spoke.   The image of the birds and their stories of how entanglement had affected each bird, both directly and indirectly,  made a deep connection with these people as well.

Please read the post by Brianna Elliot, biological technician with Audubon regarding area birds and fishing line.  In the post, you will read about the parent of YX who was entangled.  You will also learn of the proper way to dispose of fishing line.  Never dispose of fishing line in an open trash can as the birds will get in the trash and will risk entanglement.  There are monofilament recycling stations at several access points at WB.  Again, please read Brianna's post about other appropriate ways to dispose of fishing line.

Thank you for caring for the planet and for educating others, even if it is by a quiet example.  You never know how the connection you make with someone else will affect the fate of even one creature on the Earth.  And even one matters!

Remember,  everything we do or don't do makes a difference.  "Every action should be taken with thoughts of its effects on children seven generations from now."

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