Team OCEAN‘s Robert Keeley and Sanctuary Team OCEAN volunteer Dolly Garlo hosted a New Years Eve Kayak Cleanup with fourteen volunteers from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter STEADFAST, homeport Warrenton, Oregon. The active duty crew members spent one of the STEADFAST’s four days in Key West assisting with the removal of marine debris from the mangrove fringed shoreline of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s (FKNMS) Western Sambos Ecological Reserve. The very shallow shoreline prevents access to all but the smallest and shallowest draft vessels so kayaks have been employed for several years to get volunteers to targeted cleanup areas in the Reserve.
The STEADFAST volunteers paddled for one and one-half miles to access the area designated for the New Years Eve cleanup. For three hours the STEADFAST crew members filled trash bags with trap rope, styrofoam buoys, milk crates, buckets, barrels, a broom, plastic and glass bottles, and plastic wrap. A propane tank and several broken plastic chairs were also removed from this sensitive habitat. Forty bags and items of debris weighing 800 pounds were removed during the cleanup. Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys provided hamburgers for the post cleanup BBQ.
Since 2007 FKNMS cleanups have removed more 7,600 pounds of marine debris from the Western Sambos Ecological Reserve, and over 24,000 lbs of Marine Debris from the Lower Keys region of the sanctuary.
written by R. Keeley, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary