Marine Debris Cleanup Package: February 2nd – 4th, 2014

marine debris collageOnly $649* for two nights: almost half price! *All-inclusive, double-occupancy. Tax and service charge will be applied at checkout.

One of Little St. Simons Island’s many treasures is our seven-mile stretch of undeveloped beach—seven miles that many of you have spent countless hours enjoying. More than just a beautiful landscape, these beaches also serve as prime habitat for a variety of species of wildlife. Although our beaches are otherwise pristine, it is not uncommon to find manmade debris amongst the shells and driftwood in the wrack line.

Because of the connectedness of the seas, marine debris is a widespread issue facing the world’s oceans and coastal ecosystems.  Since initiating a regular cleanup and survey on our shores, we have removed over a thousand pounds of debris from our beaches and marshes. In cooperation with the Ocean Conservancy and Rivers Alive of Georgia, we have not only been cleaning up our beach, but documenting every piece of marine debris that we remove. This information is submitted to a database of debris collected from beaches around the world. By documenting the debris we collect, we are contributing to a debris profile of our oceans.  In addition to removing potential hazards to wildlife, this data helps us create more effective solutions.

Continuing with this effort, we would like to invite you to participate in a comprehensive sweep of our beaches. With your help, we can cover a greater distance making a more significant impact on the beach.  To show our gratitude for your participation, we’re offering you this deeply-discounted package deal for the nights of February 2nd and 3rd.

Mahi, a patient at the GSTC, had an emergency flipper amputation after being tangled in monofilament. Photo: GSTC

Mahi, a patient at the GSTC, had an emergency flipper amputation after being tangled in monofilament. Photo: GSTC

Marine debris has been documented affecting at least 267 species worldwide. This includes 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species.

Entanglement and ingestion of plastic are two of the main dangers that debris poses to wildlife, and unfortunately we have seen examples of both pretty close to home. In October, a pygmy sperm whale stranded on Jekyll Island, and the necropsy revealed two large pieces of black plastic sheeting in its gut. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) has also admitted several patients suffering wounds from entanglement, and found small pieces of plastic and strands of monofilament in the digestive tracts of their patients. To learn more about individual cases, read these patient descriptions from the GSTC

Now is a critical time for debris removal. Beginning in the spring, our beach becomes feeding and nesting grounds for several species of birds including red knots, Wilson’s plovers, and American oystercatchers. We’ll also see female sea turtles feeding in the coastal waters and nesting on our beaches. In order to minimize disturbance of wildlife, marine debris cleanup is best preformed during the winter.

We would like anyone interested in learning more about marine debris issues and solutions to take advantage of this special event.  In addition to everything you expect from a stay on Little St. Simons Island, there will be an evening “Trash Talk” presentation, discussions, and a chance to make a difference for wildlife. On Monday, February 3rd, we will spend a few hours on the beach surveying and removing debris.  While the workload will be light, it will have a great impact.

As always, LSSI is limited to 32 overnight guests, so call today to reserve your room: 912.638.7472.

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Monitoring marine debris: a move toward trash-free seas

Seven miles of unspoiled beaches.

Little St. Simons Island is a treasure in more ways than one, but one of those treasured pieces of the island is the seven-mile stretch of undeveloped beach. There are days when you can be on the beach and not see another person for hours!

However, many of our visitors are surprised by the sight of trash on our shores. How can an otherwise pristine beach with so few visitors collect so much manmade debris? The answer is that it washes in from the water. What we see on our beaches is only a tiny fraction of what is traveling around in the oceans.

You never know what might wash ashore! This keyboard was found on North Main Beach this summer.

100,000 marine animals die each year from debris-related causes. On top of adding pollutants to the water, plastic debris can be confused with food and ingested or can entangle and trap wildlife.

Inspired by the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, we are initiating a marine debris program in which our goal is to hold regular beach clean-ups once a month and to initiate a conversation about this debris. So far, we have had great success! Since September, we have collected 198 pounds of debris, with our most common item being plastic beverage bottles.

There are some challenges to removing debris on a beach that doesn’t allow motorized vehicles, but that won’t stop us from removing a few crab traps.

In addition to removing the debris from the beach where it has the potential to be swept back out to sea, we are recording the kinds of debris we find. This data is submitted to a larger database managed by the Ocean Conservancy.

As we collect this data, we can begin to understand the sources of marine debris, we can learn how to mitigate it, and we can inform policymakers and consumers. The Ocean Conservancy has been collecting data for over 25 years, and consequently, as we learn more as a society, we are making steps to lessen our impact.

“Cleanups alone, while powerful tools for gathering data and raising awareness, cannot solve the problem. Individuals, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and corporations are stepping up to prevent dangerous items from reaching the water in the first place.”- Tracking Trash: 25 Years of Action for the Ocean (International Coastal Cleanup)

To participate in a cleanup on the island or to learn more about the science of marine debris, talk to a naturalist next time you visit!

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