Earth Day is this week and, in celebration and recognition of this beautiful place that we love, I’ll be getting into some serious trash talk over the next few days 🙂 Once a month, the local organization, Get Trashed St. John, organizes a volunteer driven trash cleanup at a beach, town, roadway or trail on St. John. This month, a very special partnership with Dulce Vita Sails allowed twelve volunteers (ages ranging from four to 70!) and two crew members on the sail boat to collect HUNDREDS of pounds of trash from a remote beach, inaccessible by vehicle. And, some of the “trash” they found had a story to tell.
Get Trashed St. John has been collecting trash in and around Love City for SEVEN YEARS as of last month! Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have spent thousands of hours dedicated to a cleaner future on St. John. This month, an inadvertent birthday celebration occurred for this fantastic organization led by community organizer and activist, Erin Lieb. Captain Dulce and her crew volunteered their time and the vessel to join in the collaborative trash clean in order to transport and assist these hard working volunteers of all ages with their efforts.
You may remember my mentions of Dulce in previous posts. We raised some funds for her this spring in order to assist with some unexpected medical bills and, in that fundraising effort, I asserted how much she tries to give back to this community. This trash clean up is no exception to her community efforts. Because with the help of her 45′ Leopard Catamaran and her dedicated volunteer for the day crew members, this amazing team effort extracted hundreds of pounds of trash from the remote Brown Bay area.
“It felt amazing to remove so much trash from the shoreline of St. John” Captain Dulce expressed. “We had a great group of volunteers and worked in conjunction with Get Trashed St John and Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park. Team work made it possible for us to clean some hard to get to rocky shoreline along the North Eastern Shoreline. I’m so proud of everyone, my heart could burst.”
Now, I mentioned that some of this debris may have a bit of a story to tell. As we know, all trash that is not natural debris comes from someONE. A human. We create the trash and we leave it behind. Sometimes accidentally, some paying closer attention than others. But always, trash comes from us and is often times left behind in nature. But, it isn’t always by the hand of the happy beach goer….
Sometimes, specifically as it relates to coastal debris, off shore commercial fishing operations can “misplace” their equipment that is designed to withstand the most treacherous marine conditions. Therefore, these items do not decompose once they are lost at sea. They find a new home on a coastal shoreline sometimes far, far away. Specifically, this Tuna8 Explorer, Eco-designed satellite buoy, which was recovered during the Dulce Vita Sails & Get Trashed St. John Brown Bay cleanup….
This particular type of satellite buoy is used widely by “big tuna” companies to track their Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) and thousands of them are deployed into the Atlantic Ocean every year on the hunt for schools of tuna. The buoys are situated on makeshift rafts or drifting Fish Aggregation Device (dFAD) and deployed into the sea. If they drift too far from the fishing grounds such that retrieving them is deemed uneconomical to the company/deployer, they continue to drift
Now, the dFAD’s are obviously NOT made of marine sustainable materials and therefore break down into the sea. The materials used to construct them can be bad news for marine life and coral reefs.
The Caribbean FAD Tracking Project utilizes the assistance of civilian scientists, such as our resident volunteers, in order to build a database of these lost at sea devices. According to marine currents and patterns in the fishing industry that utilizes this type of device, it is likely that this particular buoy joins us in the USVI all the way from the shores of Africa. That’s a pretty hefty journey for what is now a piece of VERY expensive trash.
I think the moral of the story here is that SO MANY different sources are busy polluting our earth. And, well, trash…it MOVES! Absentmindedly letting a plastic bag blow into the wind doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to stay in that general area. It can travel thousands of miles before making its permanent rest in a place where it may harm an animal or wander into the sea.
Makeshift contraptions for catching sea life off west Africa are landing on Florida beaches like hobo fishermen, drowning turtles and bashing coral heads in a current-driven journey across the tropical Atlantic.- The Florida Times Union
The least we can all do is pitch in and keep our own trash off the ground, out of the water and off the beaches! So, in honor of Earth Day this week, pitch in, pick up and make the area around you beautiful for a cleaner future.
If you are looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day this week, take a look at the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park cleanups and activities!
FRIDAY APRIL 22 | EARTH DAY
- Earth Day Fair | 9AM to 2PM | Franklin Powell Park
- 9AM Festival opens. Booths include recycling, birds, coral life, water toxicology, face painting, and more!
- 11AM Poster Contest Judging
- 11:30AM Litter Stomp Parade around the Park
- 12PM Sanitation Workers Appreciation Lunch
- 2PM Festival closes
SATURDAY APRIL 23
- Cruz Bay Trash Pickup | 9AM | NPS Visitor Center pavilion
- Kayden Richards Photography Book Signing | Bajo El Sol Gallery | 4pm