Star Spangled Beach Cleanups
July 4 is no holiday of freedom for marine animals. Like colonial subjects, they have no representation, and are overtaxed that day by even more human trash and disturbance than usual. Those happy holiday beach crowds leave behind tons of garbage, and it quickly clogs up their ocean waters.
Save Our Shores, a fantastic Monterey Bay conservation organization, runs two big beach events around here each Independence Day holiday. On July 4 hundreds of volunteers hand out cool recyclable bags and talk to the crowds, in an effort they call “Pollution Prevention is Patriotic.” Very early the next morning, July 5, over 300 volunteers are back on the beaches of Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties to clean up the inevitable damage. Last year they collected over a ton of trash, mostly cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers, other plastic and glass, plus another 900 pounds of recyclables. They call this work “Star Spangled Beach Cleanups.”
Here in California we shoot off fireworks out over the water. Seems safer. For us. But all that rocket fuel and flares and heavy metals go somewhere; just ask the fish. And you know how our dogs hate those explosions? What about harbor seals and sea lions whose super fine ears help them avoid predators and communicate with mates?
(Sea World parks explode fireworks EVERY NIGHT, all summer long, not far atop their marine mammals. (2018 – now it’s “only” 10x a summer.) Sure, they’ve gotten accredited for animal welfare and safety by the Association for Zoos and Aquariums. But anyone who has seen the movie “Blackfish” about what life is like for captive orcas might wonder if these intelligent animals ever experience an Independence Day.)
Sorry to rain on your 4th of July parade, picnic and fireworks. But on this Independence Day, please consider your holiday impact on ocean critters. Some people say we Americans are too much about independence; we should celebrate “Interdependence Day.” I’m sure our underwater cousins like the sound of that.
(I first posted this 4 years ago, but the issues are the same every 4th – plastics and other trash on the beach, land and sea animals deafened and terrorized by explosives. Thankfully Save Our Shores will be out there on the beaches today and tomorrow doing prevention and cleanup. At our Blue Theology Mission Station in Pacific Grove we have a youth group visiting this weekend to learn about ocean stewardship and spirituality, and to visit local colleges, and we’ll do a beach clean-up also – it’s an everyday need.
I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook.
Check out www.bluetheology.com to book your own service trip or pilgrimage by the sea.
Photo: Save Our Shores)