Answering the Call to Clean Up

Whalebone Bay

On September 21, 2019 a group of 25 people took to the shoreline and shallow waters of Whalebone Bay to remove debris as part of the annual EY Bermuda Coastal Clean-up. This event coincided with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup and Bermuda was one of 125 countries taking part in this global clean-up effort. Photo by Pam Amaral.

On Saturday, September 21, while much of the island was still recovering from Hurricane Humberto, a group of 25 people, including 20 BIOS staff, interns, and fall semester students, joined the annual EY Bermuda Coastal Clean-up. The annual event, held in support of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, is timed to coincide with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, which is the largest single-day ocean clean-up event in the world.

Over the course of two hours in the morning, the team removed trash from the shoreline and shallow waters of Whalebone Bay, on the east end of the island. In total, they collected 61 pounds of debris—including three large trash bags and one blue recycling bag of plastic debris—and 26 pounds of large rope. Most of the debris consisted of small plastic pieces, bits of foam, bottle caps, oil containers, shoes, glass bottles, fishing net, and line.

Weldon Wade, a commercial diver and founder of Guardians of the Reef—a diving organization that promotes conservation, education, and research—was one of the team leaders for the group, along with BIOS educator Kyla Smith.

Marine debris

During a period of two hours, volunteers removed 61 pounds of debris from Whalebone Bay, mostly consisting of small plastic pieces, foam, bottle caps, oil containers, and rope. As part of the clean-up, volunteers were asked to tally the items collected to help scientists better understand how debris enters the marine environment. Photo by Pam Amaral.

“This is the eighth consecutive year we’ve co-hosted an event like this and it’s always a great time getting to know the students and working together to protect the local environment,” Wade said. “Of course, this effort wouldn’t have been possible without sponsors for our group, including BGA Wholesale Distributors, Pathwater, and 5Gyres, and we’re grateful for their continued support.”

Bermuda was one of 125 countries that took part in this year’s effort, with teams conducting simultaneous clean-ups around the island. In addition to picking up debris, teams were asked to become “citizen scientists” and record the items collected to help scientists and managers understand where marine debris originates from and how best to address the growing issue of plastics pollution in the ocean.

Marine debris

Photo by Pam Amaral.