Coastal Cleanup Day 2018 at Harbor Cove Beach was a wonderful experience shared among the community. I saw several volunteers on my walk to The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park. When I arrived, I was greeted by an overwhelmingly positive energy. There were many volunteers, of all ages, visiting several booths in front of the museum. The royal blue Amgen tent was visible from down the road as well as the REI booth. The Coastal Clean Up Day booths had waivers to participate in the event, gloves, trash bags, water, snacks, t-shirts, stickers, and most importantly a neat stack of Volunteer Ocean Trash Data Forms.
One area of environmental concern is the alarming amount of microplastics in our water. I was delighted to see two of my CSUCI professors working together at the Microplastics Booth. I have been learning more about the plight of ocean pollution and how it affects food webs and beach ecosystems in each of their classes (The Beach and Senior Capstone in Biology). Additionally, we will be discussing marine debris in more detail in both classes in a few weeks. I shared with my professors that I appreciate that the curriculum in both courses reflect similar topics and I enjoy hearing their perspectives on ocean topics.
I have participated in quite a few beach cleanups and always look forward to strolling along coastline, walking on the soft warm sand, or searching for interesting trash in high-traffic areas. This Coastal Clean Up Day, I decided to focus on collecting what the Volunteer Ocean Trash Data calls “tiny trash” which is trash that is less than 2.5 centimeters. There is a handy scale on the form and the picture below displays one of the largest pieces of foam I found.
Because I focused on “tiny trash”, I ended up spending a majority of my time in a small area. Most of the trash I found was caught in dune vegetation. In The Beach (class), my professor shared the scientific names and pictures of native and invasive species of dune vegetation. She has offered to show me her dune vegetation identification guide so I can identify the plants in the pictures I have included in this blog post. The last two pictures in this post show the inconspicuous foam and plastic pieces caught in the dune vegetation. Can you spot the confetti star in the last photo? My classmates were in awe of the large amount of trash I found in such a small area. In future beach cleanups, I will dedicate time to picking up “tiny trash” because it really adds up!
Overall, Coastal Clean Up Day 2018 at Harbor Cove Beach was a wonderful event with amazing volunteers of all ages. The importance of educating the community about ocean pollution, especially microplastics, is vital in improving our ocean’s health. It was pretty awesome to see two of my professors dedicating their Saturday to educating the community; it was also great to see classmates from both of their classes as well. This experience has inspired me to focus on cleaning “tiny trash” in future beach cleanups and work on my dune vegetation identification skills.