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Yoga enthusiasts arrived at South Beach with a twofold mission:

* Participate in yoga with the backdrop of what Trip Advisor voted the most beautiful beach in the United States a couple years ago and,

* Raise money through donations to go to the beach advisory committee’s initiative to educate youngsters living on Marco Island about responsible treatment of the beach and its wildlife.

The committee oversees the pristine six-mile stretch of beach from South Beach to the top of Sand Dollar, keeping it clean while protecting the animals and migratory birds that travel 9,000 miles to get here.

“When you see a flock of terns, or a flock of red skimmers standing along the water edge, they are starved and come here to breed and fatten themselves up, lay eggs and have their chicks and get ready to fly back 9,000 miles,” said Maria Lamb, a beach advisory committee member. “People flushing them out for photography or for fun ... please.”

Pre-school and Tommie Barfield Elementary students will learn about their beach and island environment

Samantha Malloy, city of Marco events coordinator, attended the fundraiser.

“Children chasing the birds, it affects their well-being, “ said Malloy. “Even some adults do not understand what the big deal is and think it’s a fun thing to scatter the birds resting on the water edge.”

Leaving trash on the beach is another hazard to the wildlife.

“Birds think some of the trash is food and eat it making them sick or get tangled in the plastic,” said Malloy. Holes dug by children at the waters edge is another danger. Sea turtles hatchlings could fall in a hole and get disoriented and head back up the beach and also beach walkers could step in a hole and injure themselves.

One way to help the wildlife said a beach advisory member would be if hotels and restaurants along the beach would use biodegradable straws. Some staying at the hotels carry drinks out to the beach and the straws end up where the wildlife tries to eat them

Marco Island Yoga

Diane Saywell started the beach yoga four years ago.

Marco Yoga meets at South Beach at 9 a.m. seven days a week for one hour and is open to anyone who wants to participate. The suggested donation is $10 per class, but no one is turned away, according to instructors Laurie Kasperbauer, Debbie Amicucci, and Meagan Mikulsky.

All ages and levels are welcome.

Ann Pullo is a regularat beach yoga, describing her experience as “incredible” with the sound of the waves and the smell of the water.

“All your senses are popping,” said Pullo.

In appreciation, Yoga instructor Meagan Mikulsky said she was happy to support Sunday’s fundraiser.

“We just wanted to give back to the island for this beautiful studio we have,” Mikulsky said.

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