We owe thanks to the 33 volunteers that spent a recent hot humid morning picking up more than 60 pounds of trash around Tigertail Beach lagoon. Also thanks to Mary Nelson and the sea turtle monitoring crew who also brought back several bags collected along their route on the outer reaches of Sand Dollar Island.
Unfortunately, trash is reaching out to the more isolated northern parts of Sand Dollar Island close to where the nesting least terns and black skimmers are busy tending to their newborn chicks. Sea Turtles also have chosen this narrow stretch of sand to deposit their eggs.
According to Allie Delventhal, “Predators, such as crows, attracted by beach litter close to the nesting colony, steal the eggs and young chicks of nesting species.” As a Shorebird Steward and Friends of Tigertail (FOT) member, Allie is very aware of the importance of the lagoon in providing varieties of fish, birds, turtles, and other wildlife a much needed foraging area. Due to the number of turtles, as well as migrating and nesting birds, at this location, critical wildlife areas have been designated to support several threatened species.
Natalia Hunt, an Audubon Anchor Steward reported that, “Currently on Sand Dollar Island, there are over 200 black skimmer chicks adventuring all over the beach. The chicks are so active that you don’t even need binoculars to enjoy them.”
Scheduled beach clean-ups bring together residents who are passionate about their beach and their efforts pay off by reducing the negative impact of litter to the environment, ensuring that a Marco Island treasure remains clean and healthy for all to enjoy.
On the upside, according to Allie, there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of litter and cigarette butts found around the Tigertail lagoon.
There are a lot of footprints on Marco’s beaches; According to beach clean-up volunteer Andrew Tyler, in 2018, Tigertail Beach Park saw over 520,000 visitors and South Beach saw more than 230,000 visitors. These figures are based on ranger data obtained from Collier County Parks and Recreation. The data accounts only for visits recorded through the Collier County parking lots.
Join FOT’s next scheduled clean-up on September 21st, part of the Annual International Coastal Clean-up. For more information, visit www.friendsoftigertail.com.