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Florida Beaches Close: What it Means for the Ocean


Some Florida Beaches Close: Environmental Impact Report

By Karisa Boyce
10:25pm PT

When hope calls, it is an honor and duty to report that 2019 was Ocean Blue’s biggest environmental impact year so far for the State of Florida chapters! The Ocean Blue family welcomed 353 volunteers at 16 community beach clean ups around Southern Florida. Altogether, Ocean Blue volunteers removed 82,582 pounds of marine debris and plastics in 2019.

Most importantly, the Ocean Blue team discovered that the Atlantic Coast of Florida is being hit the hardest with plastic fragments that break down into microplastics. On the other hand, the Gulf Coast is mainly land based and only sees plastic fragments during strong storm surges.

Interviews with Gulf Coast locals uncovered the community challenges during summer months when algal blooms happen. Many beaches are unsafe to swim and the air quality is even affected. 

Now during the COVID-19 pandemic some Oregon State Park and Florida beaches remain closed. Brevard County decided last Friday that beaches will be open while parking lots will be closed. Either way, everyone can practice social distancing if you do end up at the beach. Microplastics continues to wash ashore, so if you do end up at the beach:

Pick up 3 for the Sea!
Take a photo of yourself picking up 3 pieces of marine debris or litter, share on social media and hashtag #oceanblueproject, like and tag @Ocean Blue. You will be entered to win a Dorsal Bracelets mystery bracelet.

Ocean Blue is a grassroots organization and our main goal is to make direct impact with local communities. When folks reach out to us to clean a beach near them, we want to clean it up. While we’re there, our duty is to assess the sustainability of each event. If the footprint of travelling outweighs the impact of the amount of debris removed, then we encourage locals to Create a Clean Up

When Hope Calls: Create a Clean Up for the Future

Without a doubt, beaches will open and while we don’t know how long it will take, we know that when hope calls we can all get together again for community gatherings. So this is the perfect time for planning to Create a Clean Up for Employee Team Building with Ocean Blue. Just keep the date open and flexible and start thinking about how to boost team morale when we all get together again.

Florida Create a Clean Up Program: 
The Create a Clean Up program empowers people to lead their own events. When you lead your own event, we lower the organization carbon footprint and keep impact local. The less we travel and the more debris we remove the better off our planet is as a whole. Altogether, dozens of people led their students, friends, families and co-workers in local beach clean up events last year! 

Highlights for the Create a Clean Up Program in Florida include Debbie Smith Mihalko leading Samsung employees in cleaning up a Fort Lauderdale Beach and got supplies through Ocean Blue Project as a way to give back to the Blue Beaches program.

Teacher Abi Carr also led her students with intellectual disabilities from a Palm Beach area high school. Together, they cleaned up a local beach. Abi utilized Blue Schools resources to educate her students about Ocean Currents and Marine Debris before the event. Above all, the teacher is dedicated to a brighter future and cleaner Ocean for generations to come.

Ocean Blue Florida Environmental Impact Report

Last Spring, the Create a Clean Up program started strong in the Tampa Bay area. Clean Up Leader, Aric Lewno, gathered supplies and volunteers in Dunedin Causeway, Weeki Wachee, and Indian Rocks Beach. The impact volunteers made inspired the Ocean Blue founder, Richard Arterbury, to return to Florida beaches in summer.

We collaborated with Boxed Water to clean U.S. beaches before World Oceans Day on June 8th 2019. Hundreds of people responded to a contest where people posted videos about which beach they wanted to clean. The Palm Beach Zoo touched us with their response. The zoo wanted to protect turtle habitat on West Palm Beach and they ended up winning the contest. 

Palm Beach city and lifeguards were helpful and welcoming. Together, 42 volunteers picked up pallets, plastic, bottle caps and various items surrounding and within roped off turtle nesting sites. Plastic was shipped back to Oregon. Very little ended up in the landfill. The success of the event encouraged Ocean Blue to plan more beach clean up events around Southern and Central Florida for 2019. 

Ocean Blue was founded on World Oceans Day 2012 by father and son, Richard and Fleet, in Newport, Oregon. For the first time, Ocean Blue led events in both Oregon and Florida in 2019. I led the Newport Clean Up with Sunriver Brewing, while Richard was collaborating in West Palm Beach.

Richard assessed tons of plastic on Atlantic Coast Florida beaches, so our family team wanted to come back to Florida during the King Tides and cold temperatures of Oregon coastal winters. The commitment to cleaning the Ocean brought our family to Southern Florida beaches for nearly three winter months. During our time, we met over 350 volunteers at over a dozen events on the west and east coasts. 


Inspiration and Hope for the Future Despite COVID-19

The people we met and their stories of passion for the Ocean inspired us to keep the Ocean Blue mission alive. While we are following guidelines to Stay at Home until this Coronavirus pandemic dwindles, we are thinking of our shared Ocean and each one of you.

Remember, we all share One World Ocean and the day will come when we can get together and clean the beach again! In the meantime and if you can get out in your neighborhood, will you Pick up 3 for the Sea? Let’s do it in solidarity! Want to Create a Cleanup? Let’s plan tentatively. Want to say hello and talk about the Ocean? Reach out to me at karisa@oceanblueproject.org.

Ocean Blue family at a Florida beach after a beach cleanup.