Friday, October 30, 2015

October Cleanups

This past month has been one of our busiest months yet! We had two wonderful groups come out to help cleanup Lido beach.
The first cleanup group of the month was the Saltmeadow School group. Their enthusiasm helped them collect approximately 54 pounds of trash including an unusually large amount of abandoned toys, even though the International Coastal Cleanup was less than two weeks before.
The second group, the Manatee-Sarasota Nature Lab, was ready to start removing trash even before everyone was ready. They collected approximately 64 pounds of trash including a pigs foot, lots of wood, and some large pieces of concrete.
Both groups were amazing and I saw several who would probably start independently removing trash the next time they go to the beach.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beach Cleanups

Join us on the 17th of September and/or the 2nd of October  across from 400 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota (small covered area between Lido Beach Concession Stand and Lido Beach), for an afternoon of Beach Cleanup and a possible snorkel cleanup from 9:00-10:00am (the snorkel cleanup will depend on the water conditions. Snorkel cleanups will extend the time from 10 to about 11am. Snorkel gear will be available for the first 3-4 people who want to borrow a mask and snorkel). Reusable cleanup bags and gloves will be provided. I will discuss any animals that are found along the way. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or to email me at

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stow It Don't Throw It

    At the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit last year, I received a grant to construct 200 Stow It Don't Throw It bins. The bins are made out of discarded tennis ball containers and are made for fishermen and other people who might encounter monofilament line in the environment.
    So far, a box full of the bins have been given to Save Our Seabirds where they are available for patrons to take home and use. I plan on giving some to our local bait shop soon since a lot of fishermen go there.
    Sean Russell is the project director of the Stow It Don't Throw It Project and he started the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit. The next Youth Ocean Conservation Summit is on the 14th of November, 2015, at Mote Marine Laboratory.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 20th Snorkel and Beach Cleanup

Common Snook
During the beach and snorkel cleanup last Wednesday, we collected about 27 pounds of trash from a small section of mangroves on the beach. A lot of that weight was contributed by a rusty flywheel. During the snorkel part of the cleanup, we saw many species of marine organisms including common snook, black drums, sheepsheads, spotted sea trout, an atlantic spadefish, pinfish, spot tail pinfish, grey snappers, Florida rock snails, a variegated sea urchin, and lots of small juvenile fish.


Flywheel and A Metal Marking Pipe

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Weird Wednesday: Tennis Racket

This tennis racket was found on Lido beach. It was high up on the beach and obviously did not wash up from the ocean. I am not really sure why some one would leave their tennis racket on the beach or why someone would bring their tennis racket to the beach in the first place. I also often find tennis balls on the beach, but none were found when we found the tennis racket.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April Kayak Cleanup

During our April kayak cleanup, we were encouraged to see much less debris than on our prior kayak cleanups. 

I found some items that I brought home and cleaned in order to reuse. This is a plastic serving tray from a local restaurant - encrusted with marine organisms. One day, when I have a place of my own, I won't need to purchase any kitchenware. Reusing marine debris is a great way to prevent it from reentering the environment. 

We stopped at Ken Thompson Park and removed some single use plastic items that were along the nature path. The park has a large amount of litter - some items appear to be washed up, but a lot of items are just disguarded on the ground by park visitors. I am currently working on ideas of way we can educate visitors on the problem of marine debris.

Plastic bags and single use, plastic water bottles are commonly found. These items take energy to produce and are generally only used for a very short period of time. Currently, most plastic bags are not being recycled due to the price of oil being so low. If there isn't a profitable market for recycling, things will not be recycled. Additionally, many recycled plastics are being shipped off to other countries such as China for recycling there. If you have ever smelled burning plastic, you can imagine the pollution caused by plastic recycling. Just another reminder to refuse single use plastic. Bring your own, reusable bag to the store and use a reusable water bottle. Currently, our state government is considering allowing individual counties to make their own laws about plastic bags (HB661 and SB966). This is very important because marine life often mistake plastic bags for jelly fish and other food. A quick google search for 'plastic bags and sea turtles' will turn up many images.

One of my favorite parts of our cleanups are coming across marine organisms. This is why we do what we do - to help provide a safe and clean environment for the abundant species that live in and along our waterways, like this cute spider crab.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earthcast 2015 - Spotted Eagle Ray Research

Earthcast 2015
I will be helping with Earthcast 2015, answering questions about spotted eagle rays. Tune in for free April 22nd (Earth Day) from 2:30-3:30pm EST.
Our promo video is below. The link to Earthcast can be found here. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Weird Wednesday: Knife

Today's weird find post is a knife. It was found near the jetty and was most likely left by a fishermen who used it to filet a sheepshead and a snook, whose carcasses were found nearby. Sharp debris, like knifes, are not only a danger to marine life, but to beach goers as well. The sheath was not found with the knife, it was found on a separate cleanup.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Weird Wednesdays: Buoys

I am going to start posting every Wednesday about a weird item that we found on the beach. The first weird item found is plastic buoys attached to cable. They were found on South Lido fairly close to the dunes. It was extremely heavy and the removal of the debris was a long process, but thankfully, a tourist offered to help move it and made moving the buoys much easier. The hardware alone weighed 7 lbs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 24th Beach Cleanup

Participants during the beach cleanup today removed 12 pounds of trash, including a mini plastic server, a plastic toy flag, some orange plastic netting, and a knife (not the plastic disposable kind). The recent dredging project has not only killed many organisms, the workers working on the project have been leaving debris on the beach. Some of the trash that they left include black zip ties, unidentified black material that could be from the tubing they use or from the tires of the machinery they bring on the beach like bulldozers, thin colorful plastic used to mark the metal poles that they stick into the ground, and plastic orange construction netting that they buried under the sand. The holes in the netting buried just under the surface of the sand posed a hazard to birds and sea turtles that will be coming up on the beach to nest this year. Thank you to all the participants who came out today and helped to remove the debris!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Non Plastic Cleanup

It was very important to me when I created and started Sarasota Ocean Preservers, that the cleanups did not contribute to the problem of single use plastic. For years, I have been using reusable bags to pick up trash that I found on the beach and I really like the mesh design that my reusable bags have. Mesh is the best option because it lets the sand and water move out so it will not get too heavy too fast, and you can bring them on kayaks or underwater without them absorbing water like canvas or cloth bags would. Mesh bags are better than disposable bags because they can be reused over and over again without any damage to the bag, they can hold pointed objects without tearing, and since they are reusable, there is less chance that they will end up in the ocean and harm the ecosystem. The down side of mesh bags is that sometimes the smaller bags will get cut if a sharp object is placed in it, however they can be easily repaired with a needle and thread. Another downside of mesh bags is that sometimes they have to be cleaned, which is not too hard most of the time. They usually just need a quick rinse, but I will run them in the washing machine after group cleanups. One of the many problems of plastic bags is that plastic never really goes away. One of my favorite movies, Bag It, is a documentary which explains the problem of single use plastic very well ( Thanks to a mini-grant from the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, I was able to purchase enough reusable bags for group cleanups. Even after a full year of use, the bags continue to function well.I have two sizes of bags, one with large mesh for trash items that will be thrown away, and ones with small mesh for items that can be reused, repurposed, or if they can slip through the bigger mesh bags. Recyclables can either be carried in with the trash and be sorted out later, or they can be placed in a smaller mesh bag. Reusable gloves were also mostly provided for with the mini-grant (I bought some with my money too). It is recommended that participants use gloves when cleaning up because sometimes broken glass or even hypodermic needles are found during cleanups.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Beach Cleanup

Join us Tuesday, February 24th, across from 400 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota (small covered area between Lido Beach Concession Stand and Lido Beach), for an afternoon of Beach Cleanup at 1:00pm. Reusable cleanup bags and gloves will be provided. I will discuss any animals that are found along the way. Our goal is to educate our youth by showing them the importance of our oceans. Sarasota Ocean Preserves is made possible through a grant from the Youth Ocean Conservation Team in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or to email me at

Link to Facebook event to let us know if you are coming.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Shore line after the dredging and the storm 
Dredging is the process when sand is pumped from the ocean floor, and spread out on the beach usually to increase its size. While this may give beach goers more places to spread out, it can be (and often is) detrimental to the local marine life. The animals that get sucked into the pump can die. In addition, the animals that live off the shore can become buried, and their habitat destroyed. Our beautiful beach has been the recent victim of dredging. Sand dollars have been crushed and left to die on the beach after being sucked in with the sand. The dredging has also threatened to cover the amazing reef that the local jetty provides. If it becomes covered, thousands of animals will either die, or lose their home. The people doing the dredging also haul all of their heavy, loud machinery out on the beach where it blocks people's paths and scares away the seabirds. In addition to the noise pollution created, the workers have also left a lot of their own trash on the beach. After a week of the dredging process, a large storm came through Friday night and washed most of the sand away, leaving a cliff of sand on the shoreline. If you want to learn more about dredging, please read
Two sand dollars killed by the dredging pump 
Machinery and gear left by the workers
Bulldozer left by workers (the sand it is parked on is covering some rocks) 
Pipes used for the dredging left on the beach 
More machinery and gear left by the workers
The workers left buckets of oil or tar on the beach 
Cable ties disposed of on the beach which can injure marine life
Pipe used for dredging lying on the jetty