In mid-September, several members of our team participated in a great community event that we wanted to share with you. Each year, on the third Saturday of September, the Ocean Conservancy sponsors an International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Volunteers in over 100 countries spend their morning out on the beach removing debris that not only clogs waterways, but also threatens the safety of boaters and wildlife. Early in the morning, Megan and I joined local volunteers just off the Rickenbacker Causeway. We hopped into our kayaks and paddled across the bay to the mangroves adjacent to Villa Vizcaya. Unfortunately, the narrow waterways were choked with trash.
This was my first time participating in a Coastal Cleanup event and I absolutely loved it! Not only did I get to spend my morning kayaking, but the event gave me the chance to meet new people and work in teams to help clean the environment. I really felt like what I did that morning made a difference. Megan had a similar opinion: “I have always enjoyed kayaking as a hobby, so getting to kayak while at the same time helping to improve the local environment was a great opportunity – as long as you don’t mind dodging the spiders that live in the mangroves!”When we were done cleaning, the group recorded all the items found and removed from the mangroves. This data will be sent to the Ocean Conservancy, where they will use it to help educate the public on the harmful effects of littering. After the cleanup, my group was rewarded for our efforts with a free lunch and free admission to a local attraction.
Charles participated in the ICC that morning by joining fellow Jimmy Buffett fans as the Miami Parrot Head Club cleaned a stretch of coastline along Peacock Park in Coconut Grove. “It was amazing that when we arrived at the mangroves there was trash everywhere, entangling the roots of the trees and floating onto the beach. But only hours later, we had managed to return the area to a state that would have you believe that no human had ever touched the shoreline,” Charles reflects. The only way to experience the feeling that Charles so eloquently expresses is by participating in one of these events yourself!
You’d be surprised how many people are involved in the cleanup. The ICC is divided into state divisions (ours is the Florida Coastal Cleanup; created in 1988). And then there’s the nonprofit organization, the Miami-Dade Coastal Cleanup, which coordinates the activity locally. Environmentally-conscious organizations and local businesses, such as our partner Sailboards Miami, host the individual site cleanups. Thousands of volunteers donate their time to participate in the ICC every September.
If you would like to view the Ocean Conservancy’s reports that detail the type and astonishing number of items removed from the ocean by volunteers each year or browse photos and videos of the events, go to their website.
The ICC isn’t the only opportunity that volunteers have to team up to clean the state’s beaches. No matter where you live in Florida, there is sure to be a cleanup near you coming soon. We’ll see you at the beach!
(Check out the official Dragonfly Expeditions blog post here!)