Saturday, December 3, 2016

Important! We need your help

We need your help!

The jetty off Lido beach, where we take youth out snorkeling will be covered over with 80 feet of sand for a renourishment project. The sand they will be taking is from a sea grass bed which is vital for manatees and sea turtles. Please write in to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection before the 15th to let them know how you feel about the jetty. This is the perfect snorkeling spot for youth because there are lifeguards on duty and it is located at the public swim beach. Let them know what a valuable resource this is to the public and marine life.  The environmental impacts and damage to this valuable community resource have not been sufficiently studied. 
You can read more thoughts from FIU professor, Stephen Leatherman here.

Their contact information:

Beaches Inlets and Ports Program
Attention: Gregory Garis
Bob Martinez Center
2600 Blair Stone Rd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3522

Feel free to contact them more than once if you want to.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Lido Beach Cleanup! July 5th, 2016 - Post Boat Races and 4th of July

Cleanup July 5th, 2016 - 8:30-10:30 

Lido Public Swim Beach - 400 Benjamin Franklin Drive

*RSVP and Release Required  - RSVP Online - Release Form

Join us for a beach cleanup followed by snorkeling (water/weather permitting). We will begin by walking the beach and removing debris left behind from the boat races and 4th of July. Buckets and gloves are provided. We will then snorkel around the rock jetty, observing marine life and removing any debris we find such as hooks and fishing line. Masks and snorkels are provided for the first 12 youth who request them online. If you have your own mask and snorkel, please bring them as fit can vary. Please do not bring fins. 

If you are a high school student looking for volunteer hours, we suggest contacting Keep Sarasota County Beautiful and ask if you can sign up to log your beach cleanup hours.

Please choose to wear sun protective clothing and water shoes if you plan to snorkel. 

Please bring your own reusable water bottle with water!

RSVP: Please signup online to reserve cleanup supplies and youth snorkel equipment 

Release Form: Please complete the online release of liability prior to the cleanup

Thank you to the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit!

This year, in addition to hosting beach cleanups, I was able to host snorkel cleanups with area youth thanks to a mini grant from the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit. With the grant funds, I purchased masks and snorkels for cleanup participants to use. It was amazing to see youth overcome their fears of using a mask and snorkel, and within minutes be able to explore the amazing marine life off of Lido Beach in Sarasota, FL. We were able to remove over 200lbs of trash from Lido Beach, but more importantly, area youth had their eyes opened to the problem of marine debris. Below is a letter from one of our youth participants. 

"The organization of the Sarasota Ocean Preservers is run by a very inspirational group. Before joining along side them cleaning the beach I had no idea how the trash was effecting the sea life and the habitat they live in. You would be surprised how much trash you can find within a mile radius on the beach. We have found lots of trash on the beach for instance cigarette buds, bottle caps, fire work papers, bottles etc. After cleaning the beaches we have gotten to join them and snorkel. It was an amazing experience to explore the ocean and to take in the scenic views of the ocean life. To this day I still make sure to pick up trash I see while going to the beach, even when I am snorkeling. This was a life changing experience and I would strongly recommend it to anyone.”
                                                                                                                -Angelo B.

Snorkeling is always weather dependent. Despite some cleanup days having water that was not calm enough for snorkeling, participating youth still enjoyed removing debris from the beaches and swimming afterwards. However, they still had fun. Here is a note from a homeschool educator and facilitator:

In the last year I have had several opportunities to enjoy Sarasota
Ocean Preserver’s programs offered by Brooke Welch. As a homeschool
educator and facilitator, the program has allowed children 6-10 years of age
the opportunity to take action in their community in attainable ways. If we
are to raise a generation that cares and respects the environment, it will be
important that children first have experiences in the natural environment.
Sarasota Ocean Preservers takes this a step further by empowering the
children as participating citizens now. The children can learn about the
impact of plastics and trash through books, videos, or activities, yet nothing
can replicate the real life learning offered through Sarasota Ocean
Preservers. At the end of a volunteering opportunity with Brooke the children
can actually see the five gallon buckets filled with human produced garbage.
They are able to see that those small bottle caps truly add up to an
astonishing amount of waste. It is for these experiences that I am thankful
knowing that this program is setting the foundation for our next generation
of environmentalists.

                                                                                    Dawn L.

This year, we had a unique opportunity present when ABC news saw our group cleaning up Lido Beach after 4th of July. I was interviewed and able to share about the problem of single use plastics, fishing gear left on the rocks of the swim beach, and the dangers to marine life from boats. This opportunity enabled us to reach a much broader audience than previously anticipated.

Additional means of reaching a broader audience came through sharing the hands-on ray tagging research project I created last, which has been replicated in Cuba and Mexico for youth educational outreach on Spotted Eagle Rays.  In addition, I have recently completed a stuffed dissectible shark project which I shared with youth during Shark Days Fins and Fun Family Festival at Mote Marine Laboratory. 

Without the grant, I would not have been able to purchase the masks and snorkels for this project. This grant allowed students, without the means to purchase their own snorkeling equipment, to experience the amazing underwater world right here in their own city and begin to understand the importance of local conservation. 

The next Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in Sarasota, FL will be held December 10th, 2016 at Mote Marine Laboratory. More information can be found here.

If you are a high school student living near Sarasota, Florida and are interested in marine science, I encourage you to look into the volunteer and internship opportunities available at Mote Marine Laboratory

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day!!

Happy Earth Day everyone! 

With the warmer weather and school winding down for the year, I am looking forward to being out on the water more. I am so thankful to have partnered with two great companies - Glide SUP and Sawyer Paddles & Oars. Be sure to check them out! Both of these companies make amazing products right here in the USA. Purchasing locally made items helps in reducing boat traffic and the pollution caused by these boats. My SUP and paddle have held up to some pretty heavy abuse while I pile on debris found in Sarasota Bay. Both still look brand new. 

If your youth/school/homeschool group is interested in joining me on a SUP, kayak, snorkel or beach cleanup this year - send me an email

Thursday, February 4, 2016

City Island Cleanup This Saturday 2/6/16

What: City Island Cleanup with Mote High School Interns

Where: We will meet at 8:30 by the Whale Fountain in front of Mote Marine Laboratory. 

When: Saturday, February 6th, 9am

Who: All teens Ages 14-18


  • Free Admission to Mote Marine Laboratory for participants
  • Community Service Hours
  • Prizes

Inviting all 14-18 year olds to join the Mote High School Interns for an environmental cleanup of City Island this Saturday, February 6th. Participants can win prizes, accumulate community service hours, and receive free admission to Mote Aquarium. We will meet at 8:30 by the Whale Fountain in front of the aquarium. Cleanup will last from 9-12. Please register at the link below.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


After cleaning the beach, recyclable items are placed in the recycle bins at the beach and debris that is not recyclable or reusable is placed into the bagged trash receptacles at the beach or at my home. So many reusable items are found while removing marine debris. Below are pictures of some of the toys found washed up on the beach or left behind.