Thursday, May 15, 2008
By Alisa Sukachevin
CMRC volunteers at the May 10, 2008 Big Egg Marsh beach clean-up deserve a great amount of recognition and praise for their hard work in Jamaica Bay.
The beach clean up was a big success. Volunteers consisted of students from the Common Cents Student Community Action Fund, which included Thomas Edison and Bayside High School students, teachers, and guidance counselors. Other CMRC volunteers included Adam, Beth, and Lucas Barusek, photographer Chris Coleman, CMRC Administrative Assistant Intern Alisa Sukachevin, and Cortney Worrall, director of the Coastal Marine Resource Center.
Together the volunteers collected over 700 items of litter and marine debris from the beach. The majority of items found on the beach were plastic bags – 215 total. Volunteer also found over 180 glass and plastic beverage bottles.
Other litter and debris included fishing gear, picnic items, and diapers, as well as stranger items, such as a car bumper. The most peculiar finding was a overturned, mostly buried car. In the end, volunteers carried eighteen full bags of garbage to the Big Egg Marsh parking lot to be picked up by the park authorities.
While collecting garbage on the beach, the groups of volunteers documented their findings on the International Coastal Cleanup™ Data Card provided by The Ocean Conservancy (more information on this can be found at www.oceanconservancy.org). The data card divides garbage into six different categories: shoreline and recreational activities, ocean/waterway activities, smoking-related activities, dumping activities, medical/personal hygiene, and debris items of local concern.
One of the main problems with litter on the beach is the impact it has on local wildlife. Some of the more distressing findings were horseshoe crabs entangled in fishing lines. Half of the horseshoe crabs found entangled in fishing lines were dead; the other half were still alive. The animals the volunteers found caught in the fishing lines further emphasize the need for pollution control.
Because of the previous night’s storm, volunteers were able to rescue about 8 stranded horseshoe crabs, which were returned to the water. Later during low tide, volunteers could spot horseshoe crabs spawning and gathering close to the shore.
Within the span of three hours, the large group of volunteers managed to clean up a sizable section of the Big Egg Marsh Beach. By the time the volunteers left for the day, the beach looked more pristine than when it was found. Cortney Worrall, director of the Coastal Marine Resource Center remarked that, before the arrival of the volunteers, Big Egg Marsh was, “a beautiful beach that needed a lot of help.” That is exactly what the volunteers did, helped.