NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

Southernmost Point in the U.S. – Trashiest? Not Anymore!

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Did you know that the southernmost point in the U.S. is not in Florida …or Texas… but in our fair state of Hawaii??? Ten points to you if you knew that!🙂

There’re not many instances where my travels take me to fun and dirty beaches, but on December 11, that’s exactly where I was lucky enough to go — near South Point, Island of Hawaii and a beach known by many (and in the media) as “plastic beach.” It’s real name is Kamilo Beach and it is a tad bit east of Ka Lae, or South Point, the southernmost point in the United States.

For those of you who have ever been down to this area, you know that not only should you dress for hot, windy weather, but be certain you’re driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle (& bring some trash bags for marine debris)! From the main highway it takes at least 45 bumpy minutes to get down to this area — pretty remote with no towns or homes nearby, only the occasional group of cows or horses.

Since 2003, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF), a local environmental non-profit group, has been coordinating marine debris cleanups along a nine mile stretch of coastline in this area. HWF was funded to do these cleanups by the NOAA Marine Debris Program in 2005 and again in 2008. In five cleanup events from 2005-2006, volunteers removed over 41 tons of marine debris! Most of that was made up of derelict fishing nets — a bear to untangle from the craggy a’a lava found along most of this coastline.

Kamilo Beach in September of 2007…

 
Kamilo Beach on Dec. 11, 2009…

Isn’t amazing what people can do? So, the next time you see photos of horribly dirty beaches or waterways, and your mind starts to think “there’s no way we can make an impact here,” remember “plastic beach” and all of the people who cared enough to take a day out of their weekend to help “Keep our seas free of debris!”

Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

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