While COVID-19 threw wrenches into lots of plans this year, we have still been able to make small steps towards our new “new normal.” For me, this entailed hosting two cleanup events with my partners at Biscayne National Park for the 2020 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Historically, the ICC takes place every year on the third Saturday in September. This year, the local coordinators were given flexibility to decide how to proceed (or not) with the ICC. Fortunately, Miami-Dade County decided to host a suite of events over a two-month period, from September through November, to allow for participation in the ICC while adhering to CDC guidelines.
My fabulous colleague Elizabeth Strom and I planned and coordinated two canoe and kayak-based cleanup events leaving out of the Biscayne National Park Visitor Center. Beautiful weather conditions provided calm, flat water to paddle in, and clear skies overhead. For both trips, the groups paddled north through Biscayne Bay to the mouth of the Mowry Canal, a highly used and popular fishing area.
Both cleanup events went off smoothly. All of the volunteers were enthusiastic and adhered to all safety requirements without protest, which was something that I had been concerned about. One of the groups even received the added bonus of observing several manatees enjoying a swim through the canal. The groups debriefed and shared their thoughts on the overall problem of marine debris as well as ways that they could reduce their own potential contributions to debris. We were able to provide community service hours for college, high school, and an elementary school student. Overall, I was highly pleased with the success of our efforts, and most importantly, that everyone was able to participate in an educational yet fun activity. Here are the totals from our two ICC events:
- 18 volunteers
- 6 cleanup hours
- 183 pounds of debris removed
The ICC isn’t over yet! To find a cleanup near you, please visit www.volunteercleanup.org.