Today was the 31st Coastal Cleanup Day. This international event is the largest annual volunteer event in California, and the Estuary Program is always happy to work with volunteers to pick up trash on the Morro Bay sandspit. This morning’s group of volunteers gathered early at Morro Bay Landing to hear from Sylvia, a California State Parks representative, about how snowy plovers use the sandspit and what we can do to help protect them.
These small shorebirds are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and as a bird of special concern for the State of California. Morro Bay’s sandspit offers the dune habitat that they need to nest and fledge their young and we are lucky enough to have nesting pairs there every year. They build their nests on the sand out of natural materials and their small eggs are speckled–they blend in so well with the dune environment that it is easy to step on them without even knowing what you’ve done. Because of this, State Park staff put up symbolic fencing every year around areas where the birds are nesting. The best thing to do in order to ensure the plover’s survival is to stay outside of the yellow rope and give them and their young the space they need to survive.
Keeping this valuable information in mind, we gathered our gear and boarded Captain Stew’s Bay Cruise for the sandspit.
We enjoyed a beautiful morning out among the dunes and picked up quite a bit of trash along the way. Here are some photographs of our cleanup crew in action.
At the end of the day, we picked up 70 pounds of trash and 14 pounds of recycling, for a grant total of 84 pounds of debris removed. Our strangest finds were a very heavy wool blanket, a used oil pan, a multi-tool, and the half-drunk bottle of champagne. We brought all of this trash back with us to shore and disposed of it properly.
We can’t wait to hear how many pounds of trash were collected county-wide. Keep an eye on County-wide Coastal Cleanup Day organizer ECOSLO’s website and on the Estuary Program’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for more Coastal Cleanup Day data as it comes to us.
Thank you to our volunteers and all of those who participated in this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day!
If you’re interested in more volunteer opportunities with the Estuary Program, check out our volunteer page.