A Walk on the Beach
By Vicki Jackson
It was encouraging to see so many people of all ages come out last Saturday to stretch their "Hands Across the Sand" right here on Clearwater Beach, as well as up and down the coast. While the event is promoted as a protest toward banning offshore drilling, the size of the crowd gave witness to the disaster in our Gulf. The black that many participants wore was a somber reminder of the ominous oil that may yet spoil our sand, and a sad symbol of the countless innocent animals sickened and killed through human negligence. We remember our neighbors to the north and the despair of those individuals and families whose livelihoods have been involuntarily interrupted or eliminated.
An overwhelming feeling of helplessness seems to prevail. We've donated Dawn detergent and tee shirts to the Seabird Sanctuary. Individuals have being trained for an unimaginable calamity, and potential volunteers can sign up for a coordinated rescue registry. Governments are gathering their resources, while praying they won't have to use them. What else can be done?
We've been told that one of the first items to address in event of a potential oil clean up is the removal of debris from the beaches, but Audubon of Florida has issued a caution. They advise removing only man-made litter. As natural debris benefits both shorebirds and other wildlife, it should be left undisturbed.
Since the oil spill, I have made a personal decision to walk "my" north beach with intention. While I used to consider it refreshing exercise for my canine companion and myself, it has now become a mission. In addition to a baggy for doggy duty, I take along another one or two for the collection of the litter we inevitably encounter. From bottles to bags, wrappers to cans, cups and straws and all things plastic, I am amazed and appalled at the pollution that careless people leave.
Yesterday, I was reassured as I watched a good citizen deftly pluck litter from the sand, with an extended gripper on a stick, then deposit it into a large black trash bag she toted. Now, if the City would put a bigger trash receptacle, or just another one, at each beach access, perhaps the garbage wouldn't routinely overflow at those sites. Then again, I suppose it's somewhat better there, than out on the sand.
To all those who are able, consider taking a purposeful walk on the beach. Do it soon, while we still can.
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