Monday, September 24, 2012

27th Annual International Coastal Clean-up

The 27th annual International Coastal Clean-up is a coast-wide effort to clean up debris and trash on beaches and document the collected items for marine statistics and pollution research. 

Last weekend Gordon College students and faculty from the Biology Department partnered with the Trustees of Reservations and Crane Beach in Ipswich to help in this international marine effort. Students assisted with bags in hand, gloves for protection and marine stat worksheets for their documentation. The six students and two faculty members (Dr. Dorothy Boorse and Dr. Craig Story) collected items throughout the day.

"We found mostly food wrappers, cigarette filters, and bottle caps, but also found some unusual items like a glow stick and spray nozzle for a hose," said Megan Means, a senior biology major from Colorado, who helped organize the event this year. "When I volunteer for a Coast Sweep, I feel a connection with something greater than myself. Cleaning the beach is a way I can say thank you to nature for sharing its beauty with me." Means volunteered for her first Coastal Clean-up as a first-year student at Gordon. Now this college senior has participated for three years. 
Crane Beach began partnering with Ocean Conservancy in the late 80's and Gordon College over the last decade. Garry Dow heads the Crane Education program for the Crane Estate. "Gordon's faculty are a great addition to an event like this," said Dow who reported over 50 people came out this year from across the community. "They care not just about the event, but find ways to make the experience more tangible and valuable to the classroom experience." The collected data will be submitted to Ocean Conservancy where the data is analyzed and used to develop programs aimed at reducing marine debris worldwide.

"Coast sweep is a perfect marriage for Biology programs like Gordon's," said Dow. " Every volunteer is given a data card and on that card they record every bit of marine debris collected. We tabulate the local results and hand them over to the regional post at UMass Boston. It's extremely quantifiable--It gives us, and students studying marine science a really good sense of what's floating around in our local waters."

Over the past 25 years, more than 8.5 million people have crossed nearly 300,000 miles collecting 144 million pounds of trash. "Gordon's students went out for a long time," remarked Dow. "They are everything you hope for in a volunteer – the students are trustworthy, polite and know why they are here. I wish there were more local organizations this committed to the environment. It's nice to know we can count on Gordon every year to show up with a van full of students and professors."

Following their service, the crew at Crane Beach and the Trustees of the Reservation hosted a BBQ to thank this year's volunteers.

Photo 1: Gordon Professor Dr. Dorothy Boorse inspecting some of the materials collected at Crane Beach. Photo 2:Gordon volunteers and Trustees of Reservations staff member Garry Dow enjoy a cookout together following their service at Coastal Clean-up.  

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