Beach Clean-up

The weather is getting warmer, and people are getting more and more stir crazy. Beaches are starting to open back up to the public. I cannot tell you whether or not it is a good idea to go to the beach, but if you do, I would ask you to do a small favor for me: please bring a small bag or trash bag with you and collect some trash.

Beaches have always been an unfortunate dumping ground for trash, whether it is intentional or not. People can be careless and forgetful, leaving behind their plastic bottles and food wrappers. Sometimes the wind will carry off someone’s trash before they had a chance to throw it away. And sometimes trash will blow onto the beach from the surrounding communities.

However the trash gets there, it does not belong on the beach. Once it gets on the beach it will more than likely get into the water and travel more distance on the waves than any sailor in their lifetime. Or the trash will sink beneath the waves and end up in the stomachs of whales, dolphins, or large fish, never to be digested and slowly starving the animal as it builds in their stomachs.

It’s a harsh thing to say, but it is a reality that keeps occurring.

So what can you do to help?

Bring a trash bag or even a small plastic or paper bag with you whenever you go to the beach. Make sure you collect your own trash in those bags, pin them down with your beach bag or shoes so the wind doesn’t derail your efforts, and take the trash with you when you leave. You can dispose of the bag in a trash can provided by the city, if it’s overflowing with trash then you can dispose your trash at home.

If you’re feeling up to it, you can collect the trash on the beach that is not yours as well. Whenever I walk a beach, I make sure to bring a small bag with me, picking up trash as I go along. Not everyone is comfortable with this for one reason or another. So please do what makes you comfortable.

The easiest thing is to make sure all the items you brought to the beach come home with you, especially sandals and toys that may get left behind. If you want to do more, fantastic! You can use gloves to pick up trash if you don’t want to touch it yourself, or even tongs or something of the like.

I know it may seem embarrassing to collect trash in front of other people, but think about it. If five people see you pick up trash, then it might inspire one of them to start doing it too. And then that could encourage two more people to pick up trash, and so on, creating a domino effect that for once has a positive impact on the environment instead of a negative one.

But it’s all about comfort.

So let’s say you’re only comfortable collecting your own trash, but still five people see you do that. Then one of those five thinks it’s a good idea and now there are two people making sure they keep their trash off the beach. Then you guys tell your friends, and other people see you too, and now there are ten people cleaning up after themselves and telling their friends about it. Again, it’ll help create a cascading event that will lead to the majority of people practicing good behavior on the beach and cleaning up their own trash.

All it takes is one brave person to inspire a movement that will influence a society, even if it seems like a simple, small act.

Whether you choose to pick up only your own trash or cleaning up all the trash you can see, you are making an important impact. That’s one less bag of trash that may end up in a whale’s stomach, never to be digested. And if you never go to the beach, talk to all the people you know who do and convince them to help keep the beaches clean.

Never forget that you are important. Never forget that your decisions and your actions can help change the environment around you.



Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Today I’m going to talk to you about a beach community that I love: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA.

My husband and his family have been visiting this beach for decades; so, naturally, it’s one that I have frequented myself over the past few years. It’s a wonderful beach community that is a popular tourist location without being super built up. There aren’t dozens of mini-golf places and hotels to clog up the beach front. In fact, you can walk to the beach from almost anywhere within the town proper.

All of the more common tourist attractions like chain restaurants, outlet malls, mini-golf, and amusement parks are built away from the town, to help keep the beach area less cluttered. The local businesses and family restaurants are located within the town. I really enjoy this set up because you can easily pick a place to stay within the town, rent a house or condo or a hotel room, and you don’t have to use your car for the entire visit. You can walk anywhere within the town, which has 99% of what you may need during your visit.

Now that I’m done advertising the town, let me talk about the beach!

Rehoboth Beach is a strip of sand that stretches for about a mile, its waters coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Spanning the backside of the beach, toward the town, are fenced-off areas called dunes. A dune is a stretch of land where sand or sediment accumulates and is held in place by vegetation, like dune grass. Not every beach has dunes, and they can be delicate habitats that are important to various species. The dunes on Rehoboth Beach are fenced off to keep people from disturbing them.

There’s nothing particularly unique about the beach itself. The beach isn’t full of broken species of coral or tiny sea shells that have replaced the sand. It’s not a special breeding ground for any particular species. In fact, Delaware Bay gets a lot of horseshoe crabs during May and June for massive breeding parties, but Rehoboth Beach isn’t part of that action.

However, it’s still a great beach to visit with a wonderful community attached to it. It’s a very clean beach, and the locals are trying to keep it safe for native species and visitors alike.

I really enjoy this beach because of all the cool critters that I have found here. This beach has semi-diurnal tides, meaning that it has two equal high tides and two equal low tides every lunar day, or 24 hours and 50 minutes. After high tide, I enjoy going onto the beach to see what the water has washed up.

I’ve seen blue swimmer crabs trying to make it back to the water. I’ve seen deflated jellyfish that died after it had been beached. I’ve found broken pieces of horseshoe crabs and entire whelk egg cases, which look like alien spinal cords. And I’ve found sea glass on occasion, not to mention the countless number of shells that were mostly intact.

Rehoboth Beach may not be a place to put on your bucket list, but it’s a cool place to visit at least once. If you go, I recommend walking along the beach just after high tide—that’s the best time to see what the waves have left behind! Just please be careful as you walk the beach; some of the critters may still be alive.

Shell Beach, Australia

Not every beach is made of sand.

In fact, there are beaches that are made up of volcanic rocks, pebbles, shells, and coral. I’ve been lucky enough to snorkel from a beach that was made up of dead, broken pieces of coral that were piled up from thousands of years of heavy coastal storms. What materials a beach is comprised of can tell you a lot about the area, including how much energy is involved through wind and wave action, what the waves are like, and the history of the beach—but those are topics for another post!

Today we head over to Australia, the continent of many species that could and will kill you. However, the beach that I’ll be talking about is probably one of the safest places to swim, especially for those who aren’t strong swimmers.

Shell Beach, is found within Western Australia’s Shark Bay, making it an embayed beach. This beach is unique for a few reasons.

The first unique feature is that the immediate water has a salinity that is twice that of the ocean! This occurs because the rate of evaporation is greater than the rate that rain falls, so more water is lost due to the heat than is replaced. When the salt water evaporates, the salt stays behind. Add to this the fact that a massive sea grass bed sits at the mouth of the bay, blocking a lot of tidal flow, and this makes for a super salty environment.

But it’s okay, because this leads into the second unique thing about this place. The salty water conditions have created a safe haven for a specific kind of shelled creature, Fragum erugatum, which is a species of cockle. A cockle is a bivalve—its shell is divided into two halves—and it is very similar to oysters and clams.

The f. erugatum cockle can survive the hypersalinity of the waters of Shell Beach, but its natural predators cannot, meaning that this species thrives in this place. In fact, they’ve survived here in L’Haridon Bight for thousands of years with no decline in their population.

How can we tell? When shelled organisms die, their bodies are consumed or they decay, leaving only their shells behind. So when f. erugatum cockles die, their shells remain in the area, and over thousands of years their shells eventually replaced all the sand and other sediments of the beach.

Today, Shell Beach stretches for about 44 miles and is comprised of only cockle shells, and the shells extend about 26−30ft down below the immediate surface. That’s a lot of shells! The shells even make up the sea bed and stretch quite a ways into the bay. On the back part of the beach there are so many shells that they’ve fused together in places to form large hard shapes, which were mined for a while to make decorative blocks until Shark Bay became a protected site.

I think this beach would be a cool place to go because it is so different. Not a lot of creatures can survive the water, so you don’t have to worry so much about potential animal accidents. And the water is easy to float in, much like the Dead Sea in Jordan, so it’s a great place to relax and float in peace. Also, the beach is a pretty snow-white color and was created in such an inspiring way, at least to someone like me!

Sources and cool links:
Ocean: The Definitive Visual Guide made by the American Museum of Natural History