In 2014, TripAdvisor named Marco Island the No. 1 Island in the U.S. It referred to our island as “the jewel of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands.” Our beaches were also listed among the top 10 “family friendly” beaches in Florida. We attract thousands of visitors to our island each year and they all come to experience our six miles of spectacular beaches.
All this fame and fortune comes at a cost.
Our beaches are under assault from litter and trash. Before you head out to the beach, let’s take a moment to review the city rules necessary to maintain our beautiful beaches and ensure an enjoyable beach experience.
All litter begets litter; once litter appears, litter of all sortswill follow. All the items listed below come under the heading of “litter, trash or garbage.” According to Marco Island Ordinance No. 08-14, “it shall be unlawful for any person to discard or dispose of or abandon trash, garbage, bottles, containers, cans, or any other litter, except in containers designated for the purpose.”
Top 5 Beach Offenders:
1. Plastic – Plastic is a deadly word to shorebirds and marine life. In a recent beach clean up, 200 plastic drinking straws were collected in just two hours! Plastic stirrers, plastic beverage containers and their caps and lids, plastic food wrappers, plastic bags – the kind you bring home from the supermarkets.Studies have shown that 9 in 10 seabirds have plastic in their guts. So, what can we do as a community to make sure our beaches are plastic-free and wildlife safe?
2. Cigarette butts/filters – Studies on the impact of cigarettes on the environment also listed cigarette butts as the number one waste item collected from coastal clean ups. These small items contain tar left behind in the filter, which is harmful when ingested by shore birds. It is also not biodegradable.
3. Glass beverage containers – Broken chards of glass can ruin your trip to the beach very quickly. Glass is NOT allowed on our beaches. At a recent beach clean up a bucket full of glassbottles were collected in a 30-minute period!
4. Styrofoam cups – Styrofoam is not biodegradable. It breaks into many small pieces and is eaten by shore birds and fish. The outcome is deadly.
5. Beverage cans – Cans are found mostly around trashcans and at the public beach access walkways.
Did You Know?
Animals are not allowed on the beach except for service dogs accompanying persons with disabilities.
No bicycles are permitted on the beach.
Live shelling is prohibited by city, county and state law. If it contains a live organism, please don’t collect it.
Fill in holes before you leave – it is fun to dig but leaving holes is a hazard to bothhumans and wildlife.
Do not remove sand from the beach.
During turtle season, please stay clear of the marked nesting areas (usually marked with yellow tape and a small sign).
Please give the nesting areas a wide berth – these migratory birds travelled a long way to get here – they will rest, mate and lay eggs. Please do not flush the birds.
Open fires are prohibited on the beach, which include campfires, barbecue grills and portable grills.
No overnight camping is permitted on the beach.
Fishing from the beach is fine, but no chumming or “blood baiting,” which will attract sharks. Your fellow swimmers will thank you for your compliance.
Be Part of the Solution
If kept unchecked, litter on our beaches willeventually end up being part of the Gulf.
Land-based pollutants have the potential of becoming an ocean pollutant. Please get involved. Participate in monthly scheduled beach clean ups; if you are a business, consider becoming a sponsor of a beach clean up. Recycle, reduce your plastic usage, sign up to become a Beach Steward or become a Collier County Shorebird Volunteer. Our beaches are beautiful – let’s all do our part to make sure it will remain pristine and protected for future generations to enjoy.
The next beach clean up is scheduled for 8 AM Saturday, March 19 at South Beach. For more information about upcoming beach clean ups, go the City of Marco Island website at www.cityofmarcoisland.com and check the calendar section of Coastal Breeze News.