April 1st, 2017.
On a lovely Saturday morning, a group of CI students (including myself), a Moorpark college student, and my mom went out to Ormond Beach for a beach clean-up. To get to the beach we had to drive down a farm road and park at the end of the road, off to the side. We then greeted the guard and walked across a bridge where American mallards, American coots, and house sparrows lived, in the agricultural run-off below. This beach didn’t have many visitors other than birds, a guard and one or two surfers. I have been to this beach many times before and had not seen such a tall cliff along the high water line. The cliff was almost 4 feet tall!
My crew was there to pick up any trash within three (100 meter) transect lines, from vegetation to water. We started out at the Mugu base fence and walked north towards the Edison power plant on the dry sand. Along the route we picked up processed wood, straws, foam, plastic (of many sorts), candy wrappers, and other miscellaneous items. Most of the trash had been washed up on shore or had blown downwind from N.Oxnard. There wasn’t a lot of large trash but tons of small plastic bits that had been broken down over time. As we walked along the cliff not too far from the Mugu fence, a second fence blocked off access into the wetland. This wetland is under protection for two of the endangered shore birds that visit the area: the Least tern and Snowy plover for nesting sites. This area does not have the easiest access point, for good reason. A person unknowingly walking on nests and dogs killing plover chicks is a main concern for the endangered species. There has been a record 200 migratory and shore birds species visiting Ormond beach wetlands. To learn more about the Ormond Beach Wetland Restoration Project visit: http://scc.ca.gov/2010/01/07/ormond-beach-wetlands-restoration-project/
The Mugu base, south of where we walked, serves as an important sanctuary for birds as well. There was a variety of shore and sea birds on the other side of the fence, which reached far into the surf. Birds such as black necked curlews, sanderlings, sea gulls, and pelicans could be seen through the fence. Although we were only on the other side of the fence, they had no reaction to us being there.
Before I became involved in the marine debris program for NOAA, picking up trash at beaches has always been a hobby of mine. Every time I visit a beach there has always been trash in one form or another. Even when a beach looks “clean” it’s not, visitors are just not looking close enough. A beach is mostly “dirty” on the micro level. Whether it is micro plastics, micro fibers, or even foam that blends in with the sand, the beaches are covered in plastics. Plastic is not biodegradable in our lifetime. It takes centuries to biodegrade and never really goes away. Plastic is the main killer of marine species. It is ingested or the animal becomes entangled in it, causing death overtime which can be very painful to the organism. We want clean beaches. We also want our trash to disappear from our homes and once it’s gone, it’s easy to forget about it. It shows up right here under our toes at the beach. Please help at the source! Make less trash and buy re-usable products. NOAA will continue to monitor the beaches and maybe one day soon there will be less trash and then no trash at all.
1st photo: North view towards Edison Power Plant. 2nd photo: Cargo ship in the distance. 3rd Photo: Diversity of Birds on sand bar.
Fourth photo: Mugu fence extending in to water. Fifth photo: Cliff at high tide line.