Monthly Morningside Park Cleanup
November 5, 2023
On Sunday, November 5th, The International SeaKeepers Society returned to Morningside Park as part of our monthly cleanup series. We haven’t been to this site since ICC in September, and our absence combined with high winds and tides this month made for an abundance of trash. We were joined by about 50 volunteers, including some from the University of Miami’s National Pan-hellenic Council and some Junior SeaKeepers. After an introduction and safety briefing, our volunteers set out to clean the entirety of the park, with the option to rent kayaks and SUPs from Morningside Watersports and clean the nearby picnic islands. Within the 2 hour cleanup, our volunteers came back with endless buckets and bags of trash from all over the park and nearby islands. While some chose to focus on the rocky shoreline and do the tedious work of pulling small plastics out of the crevices, others were dedicated to hauling big pieces of wood and plastic out of the water. By the end of the cleanup, our volunteers removed over 250 lbs of trash from the park, including a ghost crab trap and a huge block of styrofoam, both of which had the potential to wreak havoc on the environment. Some volunteers used Marine Debris Tracker to log their finds, and we found that the majority of the logged items were bottle caps, a trend we have seen at multiple cleanup sites. Trends like these are important takeaways from the data we gather by using Marine Debris Tracker, and hopefully, this data can be used to support legislation banning items like plastic bottles. We are grateful to all of the volunteers who came this weekend, we hope to see you at future events!
Marine Debris Tracker is a data collection app that allows the general public to contribute to an open-date platform and scientific research by recording the different types of litter, specifically plastic pollution, that they find in either inland or marine environments. Marine Debris Tracker was developed by the University of Georgia’s Jambeck Research Group, which SeaKeepers worked with in 2021 when the Jambeck Research Group collaborated with Ocean Conservancy to assess Miami’s plastic waste management, known as a Circularity Assessment Protocol. SeaKeepers again assisted the Jambeck Research Group’s Circularity Informatics Lab in 2022 with another Circularity Assessment Protocol in the Florida Keys. The researchers of the Jambeck Lab use the Marine Debris Tracker app to record their data, and with citizen scientists also using the app, more data can be collected in different areas. Using Marine Debris Tracker at our cleanups involves community members in creating a bigger picture of plastic pollution, and provides the means for new scientific findings to be generated as well as for effective local legislation to be informed. SeaKeepers is excited to be incorporating this app at our cleanups and continue our mission of coastal education, protection, and restoration. In this cleanup, 26% of volunteers participated in using the app to record data.