Seacoast group picks up, until the coast is clear
“By picking up the trash, we're making the ocean safer for wildlife,” said Jen Kennedy, a co-founder of the Blue Ocean Society, a Portsmouth-based marine conservation group that organizes monthly cleanups. “And this is scientific research for us.”
Since 2001, Kennedy and Blue Oceans has been working with volunteers to clean up New Hampshire's coast. The group has been compiling information on marine debris for the past seven years.
With more than 1,120 beach cleanups under their belt, volunteers have removed more than 53,000 pounds of assorted debris. Saturday's cleanup on Jenness Beach added another 20 pounds of cigarette butts, plastic bags, scraps of rope and dog waste.
Along with a pair of plastic gloves and a collection bag, Kennedy gives volunteers a checklist to record exactly what type of waste they find. On Saturday, volunteers picked up 58 cigarette butts to add to the 197,639 that have already been collected.
“Cigarette butts, bottle caps and cans are the big things,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy also has years of data on floating debris observed from the decks of local whale watch boats. Tracking the trash allows Blue Ocean to identify some of the sources. Once they have an idea of where debris is coming from, the organization can launch outreach and awareness programs to try to prevent marine debris.
Blue Ocean cleanups have recorded and removed 5,200 lobster traps, 4,943 pieces of fishing line and 4,341 scraps of fishing net.
“Derelict fishing gear is also a problem and we have been working with fisherman to find was to solve the problem,” said Kennedy.
One of those solutions has been the NH Marine Waste to Energy Project, funded by the NH Sea Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Abandoned fishing gear is now being collected in a special Dumpster at the Yankee Fishermen's Cooperative in Seabrook. That waste is trucked to Wheelabrator Technologies in North Andover, Mass., a regional incinerator that generates power by burning waste.
Several of the volunteers who came from Durham, Dover, Pelham and as far away as Manchester, said they were pitching in to clean because of worries about how the trash affects wildlife.
“Cleaning the beach makes it safer for the animals,” said Taylor Foulds of Pelham, who was at the beach with her dad, Boyd, and sister, Jordan.
According to NOAA's Marine Debris program, plastic never completely degrades in the ocean, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Scientists are now looking at fish and other animals that consume microscopic pieces of plastic to see if any of the chemicals are leaching into their bodies.
A large contingent of students from the University of New Hampshire were also at Jenness Beach shivering and scouting for trash.
“We are part of a coed community service fraternity,” explained Greta Devolder.
Kennedy has managed to enlist more than 15,000 volunteers for beach cleanups over the years. “Anyone from a baby to a senior can play a part,” she said. “The best thing is people are getting out to appreciate the beaches and the ocean.”
READER COMMENTS: 0
- U.S. says Islamic State video of journalist's killing is authentic - 0
- No paper on Monday; check UnionLeader.com for updated, breaking news - 0
- Concord attorney Leahy dies - 0
- Robin Williams’ ashes are scattered in San Francisco Bay - 0
- Syracuse, Iowa crowned top party schools - 0
- Parking fines cause disputes, raise revenues - 1
- Jon Cavaiani dies at 70; desperate stand in '71 led to Medal of Honor - 0
- Meriam Ibrahim, family welcomed as long journey ends in Manchester - 2
- Moose International files suit to claim Claremont lodge - 0
READER COMMENTS: 0
- UPS driver charged in hit-and-run at Merrimack business - 0
- Seabrook mom pleads not guilty by reason of insanity to attempted murder of her two children - 0
- Gunman hits Circle K convenience store in Durham - 0
- Bella, a chihuahua mix, is still missing in Auburn - 0
- Nashua man charged in domestic knife threat - 0
- Manchester man detained on Nashua rape charges involving child - 0
- Pair accused in Hampstead home invasion also face witness tampering charges - 0
- Suicide car bomber kills 3 foreign troops in Afghan capital; Taliban claims responsibility - 0
- City officials to review proposed 'spice' ban - 0
DWI license revocations
Mexican man pleads guilty in international conspiracy to traffic hundreds of pounds of cocaine
Win tickets to see Kip Moore
Strategery: A war by any other name
Another View -- Sharon Day: The Democrats' claim to be the party for women is just not believable
Freeh dumb: Favoritism in Vt.?
Lawyer wants cellphone evidence thrown out