Positive trends found during Tigertail cleanup

Allie Delventhal
Friends of Tigertail
 Perennial volunteer Donna Kaczka returns with 20 lbs. of debri.

Awareness of local water issues and the detrimental effects of trash and plastic to wildlife and the environment has brought a desire among many area residents and visitors to do their part to limit the impact of litter.

With that in mind, 33 volunteers came to the Tigertail Beach clean-up on Saturday, July 6, sponsored by the Friends of Tigertail. Although the temperatures were warm, the rain held off, and participants were able to cover a large area around the boardwalks and mangroves as well as the lagoon and gulf beaches.

A total of 60 pounds of garbage was collected – 48 pounds of regular refuse and 12 pounds of recycle materials.

The most unusual find was an old bike handlebar, covered with barnacles. Children as well as adults volunteered, and two youth certificates were presented to students.

The Morze family join the cleanup effort.

One encouraging trend is that the last three quarterly clean-ups have yielded less debris than in past years, hopefully indicating that beachgoers are being more careful about removing their trash. The new ordinance at Tigertail restricting tobacco products has also had an impact, decreasing the number of cigarette butts.

Less litter is particularly important at Tigertail and Sand Dollar, which house critical wildlife areas where various species of shorebirds migrate and nest, feeding on local fish. Garbage attracts crows and other predators, who then eat the eggs and newborn chicks of nesting birds.

Many forms of plastic are mistaken for food by fish, who can die from the effects of these materials, as well as contaminate the birds who consume the fish. Currently, Black Skimmers have a nesting colony near the tip of Sand Dollar where young chicks are rapidly hatching and growing.

Andrew Tyler with his bag of debri.

Several helpful habits can be practiced by beach enthusiasts wanting to have a positive environmental impact. Pack out personal litter and pick up debris found when visiting the beach.

Join the Friends of Tigertail for the next beach clean-up, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21. The autumn event is part of the annual "International Coastal Clean-up" when volunteers clear coastal areas around the world. Free t-shirts will be provided to participants. Information about the activities of Friends of Tigertail can be found by visiting their website at www.FriendsofTigertail.com or liking them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FriendsofTigertailBeach.