Volunteers removed trash from the public beach on the north end of Longboat Key.
Despite a warm and rainy morning, about 10 people showed up Aug. 3 to comb through the sand and scrub to help clean up the beach at 100 N. Shore Road, an effort organized by the Surfrider Foundation.
Volunteers hunched over with bags and gloves and crept carefully into the brush on the beach to grab Starbucks cups and beer cans left behind. Despite the sign at the public entrance to the beach stating in no uncertain terms that there is no alcohol allowed on the shorefront, the area is known as Beer Can Island, and volunteer Stacy Mazza said the cleaning volunteers often find beer cans in the trees and plants, where people who were drinking toss them to avoid getting caught.
The small team of volunteers ventured far down the shoreline, even when it nearly disappeared into the water. Keen eyes were necessary to spot small bits like sunglasses lenses half buried by the sand, but plastic cups and aluminum cans jumped out.
All told, a small team of volunteers unafraid to get a bit trashy gathered several pounds of refuse, which will be given to Wendell Graham, an artist partnering with the Longboat Key Turtle Watch to create art out of beach trash. The trash will be cleaned by Graham, who sadly has a lot to work with for the art project.
Surfrider and volunteers acting on their own try to come out to the area regularly, knowing it’s a place for drinking. They come out especially after holidays like Fourth of July, but schedule a cleanup about every month. The next one will take place 9-11:30 a.m. Sept. 14 at the same beach.