Beach Cleanup (March 2023)
By: Breanna Wells & Sarah Jimenez
Pollution on Florida’s beaches is a growing concern. Pollutants ranging from plastics and other waste to industrial chemicals threaten the health of humans, wildlife, and coastal ecosystems. When these pollutants reach the ocean or freshwater environments, they can contaminate water and lead to toxicity in wildlife and fish. Pollutants can also lead to beach closures, reducing recreational and educational opportunities. Rising sea levels, increased coastal development, and climate change all contribute to pollution, making prevention and remediation efforts essential.
STA’s Marine Biology Club hosted a beach cleanup on March 23, 2023 at Hollywood Beach. Students met at the NSU Marine Environmental Center where they gathered supplies such as gloves and buckets used to collect trash. Students then went throughout Hollywood Beach to collect garbage from the coastline and bike paths.
Mrs. Lowe teaches Marine Biology Dual Enrollment, Ecology Dual Enrollment, and AP Environmental Science at STA. She also is the head of the Marine Biology Club which she founded 24 years ago when she began working at STA. When asked about the results of the beach cleanup, she said, “We collected just over 680 pounds of trash making this cleanup a big success. About 200 pounds of that trash was a ghost net. A ghost net is a fishing net that has been lost and floating around in the ocean killing all kinds of fish and crabs. Luckily it made its way up upon the beach so it couldn’t kill any more organisms. We had the help from the city of Ft. Lauderdale to remove this 200-pound fishing net from the beach.”
Ghost nets have killed millions of marine animals and life since the 1960’s. Because they are made of nylon, they do not decompose, causing many to become lost at sea. By removing such a large net from our beaches, STA students have helped to alleviate catastrophic damage to our marine life. When asked what she would like her students to take away from this month’s cleanup experience, her response was, “Every time we do a beach cleanup it is obviously good because we are removing trash from the beach but I think that the students really realize how big a threat plastic pollution is. Just talking about pollution or seeing it on the news doesn’t justify how big the issue is. I want that to be the biggest takeaway for students.” Mrs. Lowe spoke about her favorite memory from this month’s cleanup–”My favorite memory was definitely removing that large ghost net from the beach. That was a big success. The students also found a homeless encampment where there was a ton of trash. We collected a lot from there as well.”
This month’s beach cleanup was a huge success thanks to the efforts of STA students. To stay up to date on the next beach cleanup, visit Mrs. Lowe in room 205.