Thursday, December 9, 2021

Trash on Marco’s Beaches

A Rising Tide of Eyesores

Photo by Jean Hall | Common trash items on the beach—face masks and assorted plastic beverage cups.


Maverick Gates is a 7th Grade student at Discovery Middle School in Granger, Indiana, and his parents own a house on Marco Island. He has been in Marco for a month now and since his classes are mostly “virtual,” he thought it would be a valuable experience to give back to the island which is his second home. 

Maverick expressed desire to pick up trash from the beach as part of his community service commitment to the National Junior Honor Society. He is also one of Howard and Debra Reed’s ten grandchildren and they have a boat. 

Kudos to Maverick, and with the help of grandma and grandpa, they headed out to Sand Dollar Island and for two hours collected ten pounds of trash. 

Sand Dollar Island has seen aincrease of trash in the last several months. Littering is against the law in Marco Island, yet the law has not deterred growing mounds of trash visitors leave behind dumped in the dunes and vegetation areas.



Brad Cornell of the Audubon of the Western Everglades (AWE) is very concerned with this trend. Food items left on the beach attract predators such as crows, gulls, raccoons and rats and they can eat the eggs of nesting birds.  

Trash left behind by the shoreline is eventually washed out to the open waters, thus adding pollution and hazard to marine animals and sea birds mistaking the floating debris as food. 

Brittany Piersma, a shorebird steward, is on the beach regularly counting and collecting data on the bird population. Trash pickup on Sand Dollar Island usually interrupts her routinepicking up and loading trash on her ATV. 

Brad Cornell, Policy Director for AWE, endorses the County’s Motto of “Pack it in, Pack it Out and take your Trash Home With You.” 

The Sand Dollar Island area is a State designated Critical Wildlife Area and does not provide trash bins so it is important to Pack it In, Pack it Out and leave only your footprints.  

Thanks to Fran Klein, Alby Golden, Jan Jennings, Tom and Karen Corriveau and other regular beach walkers who’ve taken on the additional task of picking up trash during their morning walks. Beach trash pick-up is a volunteerdriven activity. Eyesores of trash left behind is raising concern, do your part and join one of the 13 organized beach clean-ups in 2021.


Submitted Photos | With plenty of dead fish by the shoreline, beach walker Susan Miller came upon this group of turkey buzzards feasting on dead fish! Another reason not to leave food items attracting crows and vultures.

It Is the Law: 

  • It shall be unlawful for any person to impact the dune by walking, sitting, storing equipment, throwing litter, trash, or any other article into the dune. 
  • It shall be unlawful for any person to discard or otherwise dispose of or abandon any trash, garbage, bottles, containers, cans, dead fish or part thereof, charcoal briquettes or ashes, or any other litter, except in containers designated for the purpose. It is further unlawful to dispose of any household garbage on the beach. 
  • Possession of glass containers is prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person while on the beach or beach access areas to possess or utilize any glass bottle or container. 

Do What’s Right – by taking back your trash and recyclables with you when you pack up to leave the beach. Pack it out to the closest recycling or trash bins.

Principles of Leave Only Your Footprints Behind! 

  • Pack it in, Pack it Out including litter and food items. 
  • Stay out of dunes and vegetations. 
  • Respect & observe wildlife from a distance. 
  • Never feed wildlife at the beach. 
  • Avoid flushing resting shorebirds. 

How Can You Help Keep Marco’s Beaches Clean and Safe? 

  • Join a Beach Clean-upJanuary 16th at 8 AM at South Beach. 
  • Whenever you visit the beachtake a spare rubbish bag and glove to pick up small plastic debris. 
  • Make it a family affair to clean the beach. 
  • Encourage your friends and neighbors to join a beach clean-up. 
  • Sign up your business or organization for a Monthly Beach Clean-Up. 

Submitted Photos | Photos of Common Items collected from Sand Dollar Island.

Submitted Photos | 2021 Beach Clean Up Schedule.


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