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Volunteers gather mounds of trash from seemingly "clean" Alki

On Saturday morning, a large group of environmentally conscious volunteers from the public, PAWS Wildlife Center and Seal Sitters gathered at the base Alki Beach’s Statue of Liberty.

SS Lead Investigator Robin Lindsey and Amy Webster, PAWS Community Education Coordinator, gave a brief talk about the dangers of marine debris to wildlife. Since Friday was a dreary, rainy day with few beach-goers and Parks had done its usual early morning trash pickup, Alki Beach looked deceivingly void of trash. However, 73 volunteers (60 adults and 13 kids) fanned out over a wide area stretching from Constellation Park to Duwamish Head and sidewalks above, armed with gloves and long tweezers to pluck trash (photo shows PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager Emily Meredith with her daughter, as participants scour the beach in the background).

As volunteers returned to drop off their bags and buckets of trash, the pile grew by leaps and bounds - testimony that what appears to be a small amount of litter, indeed is very substantial. Among the inventory of intact and broken bottles, beer and soft drink cans, more than a thousand cigarette butts (which leech harmful chemicals into the water), plastic bottles, caps and lids was a dope pipe, a very disturbing 6 hypodermic needles (found in differing locations), a sizable blanket (large enough to potentially kill a gray whale if swallowed), auto tire, part of a boat, chains, piece
s of gill net (extremely dangerous to marine mammals and sea birds), an expired credit card, a current Washington enhanced drivers license (we are tracking down the Bremerton owner) and a working dive watch (please contact us with a description if you lost a watch at the south end of Alki Beach promenade).

A number of volunteers also enthusiastically brought us what they thought to be plastic or rubber trash, but which were moon snail collars (photo right) - thin, circular casings of sand and mucous, each of which contains about 300,000 eggs. The collars were promptly returned to the beach. For information about moon snail collars, read Seal Sitters’ education advisor Buzz Shaw’s marine life blogpost.

Thanks to the many volunteers who together donated 154.25 hours combing the beaches, seawalls and streets and sidewalks along our westside shoreline. Picking up trash is not only rewarding, it can be fun for kids and adults alike. We had a number of amazing kids who spent their Saturday morning protecting both wildlife and beach-goers from dangerous trash. After their hard work, these kids showed some love to Seal Sitters’ “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture by renowned Northwest artist Georgia Gerber.

Seal Sitters thanks Seattle Parks for providing materials for the cleanup and our co-sponsor/partners PAWS Wildlife Center and Alki Community Council. We hope everyone will continue to pick up trash during their trips to the beaches - every day is beach cleanup day.
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