Tigertail Beach volunteers participate in global coastal cleanup

Joan and Burt Robbins are the first wave of an army of volunteers. The quarterly beach cleanup held Saturday by the Friends of Tigertail Beach was part of the worldwide International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by the Ocean Consevancy. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Joan and Burt Robbins are the first wave of an army of volunteers. The quarterly beach cleanup held Saturday by the Friends of Tigertail Beach was part of the worldwide International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by the Ocean Consevancy. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— When it comes to keeping our beaches clean, people really do want to do the right thing.

Well, not all people not the ones who go to the beach and leave the trash behind that makes beach cleanups a recurring necessity, with everything from cigarette butts and empty soda cans to used diapers showing up in the bags and on the logs of the volunteers.

Saturday, over 50 of those volunteers scoured Tigertail Beach, from the tideline in the lagoon, where Art Dobberstein patrolled the mangroves standing up and floating on his paddleboard, to the scrub around the parking lots, where hardcore cleanup veterans like Stan Hutchins collected a pickup truck bedful of debris. And the logs records of just what was found and removed from the beach, as opposed to the baulks of timber which comprise one large component of the junk played a key role in their activities.

While the Friends of Tigertail Beach host four cleanups each year, the September effort is special. The volunteers that day are joining hands-on environmental stewards all around the world in the International Coastal Cleanup, not only sweeping the coasts of junk, but compiling a database of what is found. Over time, the program, sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, provides snapshots and trendlines to help assess progress in keeping “mother ocean,” in Jimmy Buffett’s phrase, clean and healthy.

Several groups of Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts joined in the cleanup. Unlike their elders, who were not necessarily thinking about the importance of conservation when they were young, these kids start off with a mindset that the environment needs protecting, and individual efforts, multiplied by the number of youths participating, can make a real difference. Brodie Holdworth, of Cub Scout Pack 234 on Marco Island, got instruction from his dad and scoutmaster Scott Holdworth, in how to facilitate wrestling the protective plastic gloves onto one’s hands by blowing into them first for inflation.

Girl Scout Troops 467 and 873 showed up en masse, pitching in with enthusiasm. Angie Stoi, 12, and Hannah Avinon, 10, of Troop 467 competed with each other to find the most items in the grasses behind the sand along the Tigertail lagoon. Madyson Ryba, 8, and Nikki Caparrelli, 7 “and a half” of Troop 873 cleaned up along the lagoon, and still had enough energy to race to the playground next to the kiosk where Susan LaGrotta and the Friends of Tigertail set up their HQ.

Another volunteer was Collier County Parks & Recreation Dept. Director Barry Williams, working up a sweat to pitch in cleaning up Tigertail, which is a Collier County facility.

“Look at him, he needs a shower,” said Friends president Linda Colombo, making the rounds with Williams and taking the opportunity to float some ideas about possible improvements to the grounds.

Ron Fitzwater, leading a group from Marco Lutheran that included his wife Pam, lugged several chunks of lumber that might have been part of somebody’s dock. “I hope we get paid by the pound,” he said.

It was a beautiful morning to be on the beach, and the volunteers got to combine a little eco-tourism or nature viewing with their good deeds.

“We saw birds, and flying fish, and we think we saw a manatee,” said Madyson Ryba. “At least it was a gray hump.”

The Friends of Tigertail hosts, dedicated to “preserving Tigertail beach for today, tomorrow, and the future,” hosts their next beach cleanup on Saturday, Dec. 7. For more information, go online to www.friendsoftigertail.com.

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