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 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

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