Monday, May 7, 2012
Fort Pulaski National Monument's Earth Weekend event began with a kayak cleanup of the park's marsh and waterways on April 21st. The park teamed up on the operation with Clean Coast, a Savannah-based not-for-profit volunteer organization that works to combat marine debris on the Georgia Coast.
The event was a success, with over 40 people participating collecting 45 bags of marine debris – 23 of them containing recyclables and 22 of them containing non-recyclables. In addition to the bags, there was one large floating dock (2 x 3 x 6), one baseball bat, one cooler, one hot water heater, two fishing poles, three large container lids, and two tires.
It was an incredible day that both cleaned up the marsh and waterways and encouraged community involvement and promoted Earth Day. This event was made effective by the dedicated service of Clean Coast, the community, park staff and volunteers, and a Marine Debris Removal grant through Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI). Almost all debris removed was tracked using the Marine Debris Tracker mobile application.
Clean Coast partnered with Fort Pulaski to submit and be awarded a grant through the SEA-MDI in partnership with NOAA’s marine debris program. The priorities for the grant were to prevent, remove and dispose of land-based debris, and to provide marine debris education to the general public and school-age children. The grant solicited marine debris removal projects to be completed on the lands or in the coastal waters of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The SEA-MDI’s goals were to benefit living marine resources, improve navigation safety, help to restore NOAA trust resource species and habitats, and for the prevention, education, and outreach activities that aid in accomplishing the first three objectives. The grant allowed for kayaks to be rented and educational material to be produced for a series of upcoming youth land-based cleanups.
Marine debris consists of manmade objects – such as plastics, polystyrene, glass, building materials, etc. – that are discarded, disposed of or abandoned and enter the coastal or marine environment. Marine debris is a major threat to ocean ecosystems, wildlife and human health and safety. In ecosystems, marine debris can affect water quality and habitats. It can entangle, drown, choke, maim, or otherwise affect the health of wildlife, and with humans it contaminates water supplies as well as become a hazard for beach goers and clogs water intakes. Marine debris can be managed through prevention. Prevention measures that you can do include reduce, reuse, and recycle, choosing reusable items, retain and properly dispose of debris, remove trash from yards, gutters, and drains, purchase and use items that are sustainable.
Other notable weekend events included an hour-long guided exploration of the park's salt marsh led by an educator from Tybee Island Marine Science Center and an exhibit of wildlife from Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Another presentation/encounter with Oatland Island Wildlife Center will be scheduled in May.