Good turnout for International Coastal Clean-up on Tigertail Beach

Allie Delventhal
Special to the Eagle

On Saturday, 76 volunteers congregated to clean Tigertail Beach, hosted by Friends of Tigertail and supported by Collier County and Keep Collier Beautiful, who donated supplies.

One of four annual clean-ups sponsored by Friends of Tigertail, the September event is part of the International Coastal Clean-up when volunteers throughout the world gather and tabulate beach garbage on the same day.

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Local statistics are then combined to shed light on trash sources and trends. Most ocean trash originates from debris on beaches washing into water bodies, negatively affecting marine and coastal plants and animals. Founded in 1986 by the Ocean Conservancy, the International Coastal Clean-up tries to increase awareness regarding the threats posed by garbage and pollution in our waterways. Because we depend on the oceans to help control global warming and provide food and recreation, keeping them healthy is vital.  

MIA prioritizes community service, so it was no surprise that the majority of the volunteers were from there, with students comprising 42 of the 76 total participants. Other volunteers included another frequent attendee, Collier County Commissioner Rick LoCastro, Barry Williams, director of Collier County Parks and Recreation, John Lafakis from City of Marco Public Works, members of Rookery Bay, MICA, and BACRC, and area residents and visitors.

The attendees fanned out to all areas of the park and beach, filling 15 large garbage bags totaling 96 pounds. The most unusual item collected was a "wig on a stick" found by MIA student Christopher Hackman. Bottles, cans, food containers, cigarettes, clothing, and construction materials were also prevalent.

An unexpected and welcome sight was a Zebra Longwing butterfly noted in the park's butterfly garden. This Florida state butterfly was feasting on the native firebush plant within the garden.

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While Friends of Tigertail urges the beach going public to pack out their trash to avoid beach debris, knowing that this is not always done the group is most appreciative of the many volunteers that work hard to keep the area clean. The next scheduled Tigertail clean-up is Saturday December 4. For more information, check the group's website or facebook page.