GULF COAST — Nearly 2,000 volunteers combed the Coast’s beaches, marsh areas and barrier islands Oct. 18, picking up trash at 47 sites during the 26th annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup.
Preliminary numbers show that during the three-hour cleanup, 1,616 people picked up 1,603 bags of trash, including 275 bags of recyclables along 100 miles in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties.
“Every year, the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup grows, showing that more people are dedicated to keeping the Coast free of trash,” said Jamie Miller, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. “It’s good for the environment, but it’s also an opportunity to teach our young people the value of keeping our beaches, bays and islands clean.”
One volunteer working near the Biloxi Lighthouse found a bag of crystal meth, which was turned over to Biloxi Police. Some of the most interesting items found include a dishwasher door in Jackson County, a grocery cart on Deer Island in Harrison County and a watermelon patch in Hancock County. Volunteers also found tires, tents, mattresses and a TV.
Workers at Deer Island found a dolphin carcass and reported it to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.
Coastal Cleanup is organized by MDMR and the Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force and is part of the International Coastal Cleanup.
The mission of the ICC is to remove debris from shorelines, bayous, bays and beaches and collect information on the amount and types of debris collected and use that data to educate people on the dangers of littering.
The results of clean-ups all over the world are put into the Ocean Conservancy’s online database, and that information is tabulated and distributed worldwide. Data from the clean-ups has been used to enact local, state, national and international legislation.
In 2013, nearly 650,000 volunteers in 92 countries gathered more than 12 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways.
This year, the data for Mississippi Coastal Cleanup will be analyzed by scientists at Gulf Coast Research Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi. Results will be reported to the ICC.
Coastal Cleanup also partners with Mississippi Power’s Renew Our Rivers program to help keep rivers and other waterways clean. In 2014, Renew Our Rivers had 490 participants who collected 14.13 tons of debris at eight sites.
Coast residents, schools and civic groups continue to help keep the beaches and waterways clean.