BIOS research technician Stacy Peltier (left) and the event’s co-organizer Weldon Wade, with Guardians of the Reef, removed an abandoned drift net with a dead snapper caught in it. The nets are not from local fishing boats, said BIOS small boats and dock supervisor Chris Flook. “These nets often wash ashore here and are ‘off cuts’ from foreign vessels,” he said, which raises concern about illegal fishing in Bermudian waters.
A scooter, four abandoned octopus traps, a 14-foot long fishing net, and several dozen flip-flops were among the items collected by 52 volunteers on September 15 during a three-hour shoreline cleanup at Whalebone Bay, part of the EY Bermuda Coastal Cleanup in support of Keep Bermuda Beautiful.
Tyler Flook, the 8-year-old son of Chris Flook, helped haul old octopus traps and plastic trash from Ferry Point’s shoreline. During the three-hour event, 52 volunteers collected 440 pounds of trash. Photo by Weldon Wade.
“We made a huge difference in just a few hours and removed loads of trash—440 pounds in total—from the water and surrounding shore areas, plus we removed lots of micro-plastic pieces from the beach sand,” said BIOS team organizer Audrey Pope, the internship coordinator and communications and data manager for university programs at BIOS.
Some of the collected debris was recycled, including fishing and toiletry items and foam pieces. Pope and a fellow volunteer alone found 25 sandals and saw at least 15 more unmatched shoes in the garbage bags of other volunteers. “We now know where all of Bermuda’s flip-flops go to die,” she joked.
Student volunteers collected marine debris and sifted sand for plastic pieces along the shore of Whalebone Bay.
Volunteers documented all collected items for lists compiled by the Ocean Conservancy, which coordinated similar cleanups and data collection in more than 100 countries around the world as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup. BIOS co-hosted the Whalebone Bay cleanup effort with the Bermuda chapter of Guardians of the Reef. Other teams from a variety of organizations spread out around the island during the event.
BIOS volunteers have been involved with the event for at least nine of the past 30 years. This year’s participants included fall semester students from the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University, students in the BIOS Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, as well as interns and staff members.