Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trashy Talking Turtlers: Final Trash Count

Aloha Trashy Talking Turtlers!
As promised, I am sending you one last note on the amount of trash that we have collected since June 1, 2010.

Nancy Fahey
From Sept. 1-15, Nancy monitored our beach by ATV. During her early morning rides, she stopped and collected a total of 45 bags of trash. Now that is leading by example. On her runs, she found almost 30 balloons, three dirty diapers, a pair of boxers, a pair of well-worn sneakers, 31 cans of Bud (in one location) and a dive fin.

Dick and Linda Chapman
Veteran volunteers Dick and Linda Chapman collected one and a half bags of trash on Labor Day in Zone 1. Thank you, Dick and Linda.

Our grand total from June 1 to Sept. 15 is 569.74 bags of trash. Unbelievable!
Thank you all so much for being such wonderful stewards of our earth and our oceans.

WBSTP on Facebook.
WBSTP volunteer Susan Miller has been doing a wonderful job authoring the WBSTP Facebook page. If you have not already done so, please check it out at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wrightsville-Beach-Sea-Turtle-Project/125348617482148?ref=ts. Susan is planning to continue Turtle Trivia Tuesdays. Susan also plans to continue to post information that is relevant to the sea turtle community.

Cigarette Surprise
A whopping 1,833 cigarette butts collected at Public Beach Access No. 20 on WB in just 20 minutes. Yes, you read that right.
Danielle Richardet who authors http://www.itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com/ picks up litter on WB for 20 minutes a day and documents her findings. She has been counting the number of cigarette butts that she collects each time. On Saturday, Sept. 18, she, her husband and her three small children visited Access No. 20—between Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Stone Street—and collected 1,833 butts. Please visit her blog site to see the pictures! http://www.itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com/
Danielle and her family have collected a total of 5,395 butts in just 11 days at 20 minutes a day. How much more evidence could we possibly need that a smoking ban is a great idea?
Did you know that cigarette butts are made from plastic and they are the number one littered item? The truth is in the numerous data sources that support this information.
John and I decided to join Danielle's efforts. On Sunday, we went to Public Beach Access No. 32 and picked up litter for 20 minutes. We picked up 1 pound, 7.3 ounces of trash including 142 cigarette butts, two cigar tips, a pair of socks, two balloons, 20 bottle caps and lots of straws. We sent our information to Danielle and also to The Daily Ocean, which can be viewed at http://www.thedailyocean.blogspot.com/. Feel free to join this exciting movement of fighting litter.

We are very thankful to Lumina News for posting our newsletters on their website. Please consider visiting the luminanews.com website, click on the Sea Turtle Project Blog and become a follower.

Big Sweep
The Big Sweep is Saturday, Sept. 25 at Wrightsville Beach. We will be manning the table at Public Beach Access No. 4. Please come and volunteer; we would love to see you. Also, we will have random drawings for reusable bags, a reusable bottle and a WBSTP t-shirt!

Take care, continue to do good work, enjoy your loved ones and hope to see you all soon!

Ginger Taylor

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trashy Talking Turtlers

Hi, all.  Yes, it is another Trashy Talking Turtler newsletter.  And why not?  Nancy Fahey is still out there every morning on her ATV looking for nests and picking up trash. It also gives me a reason to connect with you all again.

Nancy adds to our total:
Nancy has been going strong for nine days and although she has not found any new turtle tracks, she has found plenty of human tracks. Since Sept. 1, she has collected 27 bags of trash. So, this brings our total to 523.24 bags of trash.

Balloons and Wrightsville Beach
Nancy has also kept track of the number of balloons she has collected from our shore and so far her total is 24! This lets us all know that we have some educating to do.

I was at the WB BOA meeting tonight to show off some trash (more about that below) and at the end of the meeting Mayor Cignotti and the BOA members briefly discussed "the turtle people" and the balloons. It was pointed out that there is an ordinance about having balloons as decorations, but they may look into ordinances about releasing balloons at the beach.
After the meeting, I went home and googled WB balloon ordinance. I have not yet come across an ordinance about balloons, but this doesn't mean there isn’t one. However, I did come across an application for people who want to have a celebration or event on the beach. It clearly states on that balloons are not to be used for decorations. I was so excited about this, perhaps more so that the BOA may look more into this issue.
 Thank you, Nancy. Keep up the good work.

Trash at BOA
I have been saving some of my trash. Because most of the trash collected was too disgusting to keep, I of course did not keep it all. However, I did keep 1/3 to half of our trash with the idea that it would be educational at some point. 
I, of course, kept toys and toy parts, plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, cup lids and random junk. I have also kept 143 bottle caps (water, beer, soda, and suntan lotion), 103 straws (33 of which are kids juice box straws—no, I did not keep all of the cellophane straw wrappers, but you know we have all picked up tons of those), 60 pieces of fireworks remnants (I am sad to say that we left just as many on the beach because we did not have time to get them all), six balloons, four cigarette lighters, two cigar tips, 10 plastic spoons, one plastic fork, one plastic knife, one stainless steel knife, one pairing knife that was suspiciously slid inside of an empty sharpie pen case, five tubes of chapstick, 11 plastic cup lids, nine hair accessories and the list goes on and on.
I brought this marvelous display of organized trash to the Cleaner Greener Committee and it was suggested to show it to the BOA. So, I did. I have to say that I did not have a lot of time to prepare, but I went anyway. I also prepared a graph which I have attached here to show how much trash was picked up in each zone and how many days out of a possible 92 days that trash was collected per zone.  I hope you find the graph and information interesting. You may have to download the graph in order to view it.

WBSTP listed on Santa Monica, Calif., blog
Yes, you are getting to be famous now. If you have been reading the newsletter, you know Danielle and her "It Starts With Me" blog. Through talking with her, I learned that she came across the idea when she saw Sara's Daily Ocean blog. Sara lives in California and made a goal to document the trash that she collects on the beach there. Please go to her blog to learn more http://www.thedailyocean.blogspot.com/.  Danielle has become friends with Sara and mentioned our group to her. Sara became a follower on the Lumina News website’s sea turtle news blog and mentioned us on her Santa Monica blog. It really is amazing how people can be united for a common purpose.
To view Sara's comment on WBSTP, scroll down to her entry on Sept. 3rd.

Saving Plastic Bottle Caps
Since saving the plastic bottle caps on the beach, I have two requests for them. One person is collecting them for recycled art projects and another person is collecting them to raise money for cancer awareness.
If you continue to pick up litter and would like to save your caps, please do. I will be happy to collect them and redistribute for a good cause.

More to Come
Since Nancy is still out on the beach, I will have at least one more update on her total trash report.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trashy Talking Turtlers: Week 13

Hello Trashy Talking Turtlers,

It is with mixed emotions that I write this final newsletter. Although I am looking forward to not having a deadline or the pressure to get the newsletter done, I will miss checking my email and seeing all the kindred messages from you all. I remember feeling disappointed once turtle season ended last year and the only emails I seemed to get were junk mail.
And, of course, I would not be honest if I did not say that I am somewhat disappointed that Wrightsville Beach did not see more nesting activity this year.
However, I am very excited and proud of the work that the WBSTP volunteers have done in terms of cleaning our beach and helping our oceans to be a safer habitat for all marine life. And I am just as excited about the nesting activity across the state. According to http://www.seaturtle.org/, North Carolina has 845 reported nests so far!

Numbers for Week 13
Note: There are nine days this week, so we will add 12 zones (six per day) making the total number of zones 54 instead of the usual 42.
We picked up trash in 27 of the 52 zones (50%)
Zone 0 = 2.83 bags
Zone 1 = 4 bags
Zone 2 = 5 bags
Zone 3 = 7 bags
Zone 4 = 5.25 bags
Zone 5 = 5.5 bags
Total Number of Bags for Week 13 = 29.58
Grand Total from June 1 – Aug. 31, 2010 = 496.24 bags of trash—not including items too large to fit into bags.
Please give yourself a hand, high-five, pat on the back and take a bow. You definitely deserve it. Job well done. The earth thanks you!

Work Continues for Nancy Fahey
Although we may be finished monitoring the beach by foot, Nancy Fahey, our tireless leader, will continue to monitor the beach by ATV through September 15th. We should all send her positive sea turtle thoughts because you never know with the turtles. Not only is Nancy monitoring for nests, but she is also taking time to pick up trash. In just two days, she has collected 11 bags of trash. If we added that to our grand total, we would have 507.24 bags of trash. Among the trash Nancy has collected, she has picked up at least 12 balloons in two days.
I know we have talked about balloons before, but one more time won't hurt, right?
Letting balloons go is pretty cool to young kids and they love to watch the balloons float into the sky. I remember when I was in elementary school—yes, I can still remember that far back—we released balloons with our addresses inside hoping for pen pals. It was a project that I enjoyed very much. However, in that lesson about helium, no one ever taught me about the risks to the environment when a balloon deflates, lands and becomes trash that breaks down into toxic particles or is ingested by wildlife. Perhaps we did not know back then about the detrimental effects of letting balloons go, but now we do. So, we can either ignore this knowledge or face it head on like Nancy did yesterday.
Yesterday, after collecting more balloons from our shore, Nancy learned from two different sources that a local agency in Wilmington had released lots and lots of balloons to celebrate the success of their clients. Being the true environmental and sea turtle advocate that Nancy is, she picked up the phone and called the agency. She explained her concerns with the release of the balloons, including the example this sets to other agencies and individuals who may use the release of balloons as a symbol of celebration. Nancy pointed out that sea turtles and other marine life often ingest balloons for food and become very sick. She also explained that marine life can become entangled in the ribbons that are attached to the balloons and often become injured or die as a result. Nancy encouraged the representative from the agency to go to http://www.seaturtlehospital.org/ and view the picture on the homepage of the balloons that have been passed by some of the sea turtles that have been rehabilitated at the hospital.
The agency representative was very open to what Nancy had to say and left Nancy with the feeling that the agency would not release balloons in the future. And to be fair to the agency, they did take the extra steps to special order biodegradable balloons and also used raffia instead of ribbon. Nancy did thank the agency for their consideration of the environment, but encouraged them to celebrate in a different way in the future such as releasing butterflies, planting trees or planting a field of wildflowers. We know that even if items are biodegradable, they are still litter (paper is biodegradable, but if it is on the ground, it is still litter) and just because items are biodegradable, it does not mean that it is safe for wildlife.
As Nancy and I were discussing this situation, we thought of all the times people release balloons on the beach during celebrations or even during memorial events. The idea occurred to us that it would be nice if WB had an ordinance against releasing balloons on the beach. It really seems like such an innocent gesture, but if individuals were aware of the consequences of this one act on the environment, many would abandon it all together.
Thank you, Nancy, for advocating and educating on behalf of our planet!

It starts with me!
I have highlighted Danielle's blog several times in this newsletter and yet I feel compelled to do so again. I am so impressed and inspired by her dedication to clean litter from Wrightsville Beach that I am thinking about joining her. Why not pick up cigarette butts for 20 minutes a day, two days a week? Danielle and her family have picked up 2,171 cigarette butts in just seven days.
I will definitely keep reading her blog and I encourage others to do the same. Danielle has a great way of writing about and photographing the typical trash that we see on the beach when walking. If you look at the pictures on her blog, you will surely recognize items that you, too, have collected. She is definitely a kindred spirit.
One more reason to check out her blog today is that she wrote about the sea turtles and has a picture of our potential nest. Thank you, Danielle, for bringing attention to this issue. When I originally wrote the draft for this newsletter, the blog about the sea turtles was not yet posted. So, you can imagine that when I checked the blog this morning before correcting the final draft, I was excited and had to include it here: http://itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com/.

Stay Tuned
WBSTP and Surfrider Foundation are joining forces to help keep America beautiful with the Big Sweep on Saturday, Sept. 25. We will need volunteers to make it a big success. It will be very exciting to join the community in an effort to clean our beaches and waterways. Please stay tuned for ways in which you can help. I will be contacting you via email very soon.

A sincere thank you to all of you who have monitored sea turtle activity before sunrise; to those of you who have missed the sunrise because you were bent over the sand picking up trash; to those of you who walked the beach with your significant other, but could not hold their hand because your hand was carrying a trash bag; and to those who inspired and educated others about sea turtles and litter. You are all saints!
I think about all the trash we have collected—some of it was fresh and some of it had been spit out by the ocean and was covered in barnacles and sea life. Renee mentioned that it seemed the ocean was giving us another chance to pick up the litter that was spit back at us. I like this thought. Isn't that such a positive way to think about the litter that comes back to us from the ocean? It is as if Mother Ocean trusts us enough to help and protect her. Indeed, we will.

So, I feel I must once again include the "Sea Turtle Zen" from the book Animal Speak:
“...Turtles remind us that the way to heaven is through the earth. In Mother Earth is all that we need. She will care for us, protect us, and nurture us, as long as we do the same for her. For that to happen we must slow down and heighten our sensibilities. We must see the connection to all things. Just as the turtle cannot separate itself from its shell, neither can we separate ourselves from what we do to the Earth...”

Peace and Blessings,
Ginger Taylor

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trashy Talking Turtlers: Week 12

Trashy Talking Turtlers

Week 12:Aug. 16 - Aug. 22, 2010
Hello and Kudos Trashy Talking Turtlers!

As the summer is winding down, so is the amount of trash that we are seeing on the beach. And that is a good thing.
Together, you have collected 458. 16 bags of trash so far this season. But, that's not all. You have also saved toys for children who need them and donated them to various centers around town, you have collected shoes and donated them to be mailed to families in other countries who are unable to afford shoes, and you have washed towels and donated them to the Sea Turtle Hospital, animal shelters and veterinarian offices. Thank you for all of your hard work.

Numbers for Week 12:
We picked up trash in 22 of the 42 zones (52%)
Zone 0 = 1. 5 bags
Zone 1 = 2. 75 bags
Zone 2 = 4 bags
Zone 3 = 8 bags
Zone 4 = 7. 5 bags
Zone 5 = 7 bags
Total for Week 12 = 30. 75 bags
Grand Total since June 1 = 458. 16 bags of trash—not including the endless amounts of trash that did not fit into the bags.

Your reports:
Zone 0 had one Styrofoam cup and two scraps of paper. Laraine was so in need of finding trash she picked up two bird feathers. -Abrons, Butler and Doss
Hi Ginger,
I walked Zone 1 for Hank and Allison. During my trek, I did not find turtle tracks, but I did find about one grocery bag full of trash. This included a box of matches and a long piece of kite string that had been cut into pieces. Additionally, on my way south, I noticed a "camp" that included several beach chairs and towels, two umbrellas, a raft, plastic bags along with other empty food containers including an empty can of Bud, etc. The site looked recently used, so thinking the owners were swimming or searching for shells, I didn't disturb anything. On my way back, I saw Officer Chris Swartz of WBPD checking out the site. Come to find out the collection belonged to a homeless person that has been inhabiting the beach in recent weeks. After being chased away from Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, he must have moved his apartment north to Zone 1. According to Chris, this assortment of items had been gathered by this guy a bit at a time. While some of it may have come from the trash, parts of it looked fairly decent. Unbeknownst to us, this guy has apparently been hoarding many of the items left behind by others. No wonder some of our volunteers think the beach seems cleaner! -Nancy

Good Morning,
Wow, Zone 4 was a busy area this morning (maybe it is like that everyday). I found the following:
1 set of house keys on a long purple string (I turned this into the police department)
1 toy shovel
1 pair of goggles
2 beach chairs
1 towel
3 beer bottles
2 soda cans
1 wooden and metal umbrella pole about 4 feet long
Lots of cigarette butts, plastic bottle caps and plastic wrappers
I also found at least 10 holes that I was able to fill in. And then there was one "hole" about 12 feet long, 3 feet deep in sections, and in the shape of an “S.” I tried my best to fill it in, but it can still use some help. Maybe the volunteer that walks Zone 4 tomorrow can work on it a little. It is just south of the water tower and in front of a light blue house. Have a great day. -Michelle Leonard

When John and I walked Zone 4 on Wednesday, we collected three bags of trash which always contain plastic firework remnants in front of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort by the volleyball court. But sadly, we also found five baby stingrays between the volleyball court and the dune line. Of course, they were dead and I am so confused about that. We know the tide did not wash them up to the dune line, so why are they there and how did they die? It was very disturbing. But even more disturbing is that when I walked Zone 4 today (a week later) the baby rays were still there. There are always things that cannot be explained and I find events like this to be one of them.
On down the beach in Zone 4, we saw the Great Wall of China. I'm pretty excited that I can find the Grand Canyon and The Great Wall of China without ever leaving WB! Why would you want to vacation anywhere else? The builder of this project built a wall that was about 2-3 feet high that snaked up and down the sand for about 12 feet. I'm fairly certain this is the same wall that Michelle saw on Saturday—3 days later. If a sea turtle had tried to nest in that area, it would have ran headfirst into one of those "S" curves, would have had a difficult time turning around, and would have surely not laid a nest, possibly even becoming trapped there. The Great Wall was built right in front of a cabana that had been left overnight. The cabana had tire marks beside it, but had not been ticketed.

Hello Ginger,
I picked up one bag of trash, but saw a ton of cigarette butts. Also, there were a lot of holes this week. They were deep, but not too wide. On the very south end there were some people with two dogs. I called it in but I don't think the officer was able to catch them. Or he just told them to leave without a citation. There was also one cabana with an overflowing trashcan next to it. It looked like they moved in for the weekend and then just left everything behind. There is even a trashcan under all that stuff.

Frustration is mounting in Zone 5 as chairs from the Oceanic continue to be found along the shoreline every week. I cannot stress enough how dangerous beach furniture is to marine life when it gets washed out to sea. Not only are the chairs plastic, which will break down into smaller pieces and release toxins, but sea life easily becomes entangled in beach furniture, where they become stressed, unable to escape and eventually die. Oceanic, please remove your chairs from the beach strand at night. All the sea life will thank you.

Chuck found a life preserver in Zone 5 this week. I'm thinking it may be a symbol of hope or thanks from Mother Ocean for all you guys are doing to help keep her healthy.

Driving for Trash vs. Walking for Trash
I heard a couple of comments last week about different people driving down the beach to assess the trash situation and determining that the litter problem did not seem that bad. I find this hard to believe. If that’s true, then where does 458.16 bags of trash and 1,167 cigarette butts come from if the litter problem is not that bad? Check out http://itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com if you don’t believe it.

I find it rather difficult to not be offended for all of the volunteers who choose to spend their time cleaning trash from WB only to have others comment that the trash is not that bad. What about people like Bobby Brandon who choose to take to the streets with his own bags, brooms and gloves to clean up the mess? What about people like Danielle who teaches her children stewardship of the Earth by taking them to the beach to pick up cigarette butts? Wonder if they would say the litter is not that bad? Wonder if people did not volunteer their time to pick up the trash if the litter would seem that bad? Wonder if all the people and organizations who are studying and researching the "garbage patch" would agree that the litter situation is not that bad?

So, anyway, being offended will get me nowhere and doesn’t do anything to help the situation. So, I am trying to get to a point of understanding and develop a new attitude. Sometimes you want to see a problem for yourself to determine what the situation is. So, driving the length of the beach strand would seem like a good idea as you get to cover the entire length of the beach. However, volunteers who participate in litter clean-up can attest to the fact that when you are walking on the beach, it is much easier to see all the trash and bits that are partially buried in the sand than it is viewing from inside a vehicle. You cannot cover as much area in as short amount of time as you can driving the beach, but it is much more effective to walk and that is why it takes a large number of volunteers to clean the beach.

I would like to invite anyone who is interested in assessing the litter situation to walk the beach early in the morning for 1-2 miles south of Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, from mid-June to mid-August. Although, the litter situation may seem improved over years past, it remains a very serious problem. If we stick our heads in the sand and try to ignore it, we will find that our heads are stuck in trash!

A special thank you to all individuals, volunteers, town officials, town employees, residents and tourists who practice being good stewards of the Earth and her Oceans. You are amazing!

"May there be so many sea turtles in our oceans one day that we have to dodge them when we go swimming!"---Jean Beasley, Founder of Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital, Topsail Island, NC