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beach cleanup

No butts about it - beach cleanup a resounding success

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Early yesterday morning, more than 80 people from all over the region gathered at Alki to make a difference for wildlife by removing trash and debris from the beach. After a short welcoming from Seal Sitters, a heartfelt thank you was extended to PAWS Wildlife volunteers who were in attendance. PAWS is a valued partner of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and an assessment and rehab resource for harbor seal pups.

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist Dauod Miller talked briefly about the importance of making sure invertebrates were not using a piece of debris as a home before volunteers removed it from the beach. Dauod also reminded participants that moon snail egg casings (which look like trash) are indeed NOT. He was available throughout the morning, as was Amy Webster of PAWS, to answer questions from volunteers.

Peggy Foreman (shown above), education specialist for NOAA Fisheries, spoke about the impact of human trash on gray whales. Grays forage by scooping up large mouthfuls of sediment and water from the sea bottom and sieve small prey and crustaceans (such as tiny ghost shrimp) through their baleen. Sadly, when the ocean floor is littered with human trash, that is sucked in as well. Peggy spoke about the gray whale which died in West Seattle’s Arroyos neighborhood in April of 2010. A necropsy of the thin juvenile showed virtually no food in the whale’s stomach, however, a disturbing amount of trash - plastic bags, funnel, golf ball, rope, half a pair of adult sweatpants. Peggy spread out a blue tarp on the ground with a representation of the trash found inside this whale; it provided a striking educational tool throughout the morning.

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After being informed that an estimated 360 BILLION cigarette butts, which leach harmful chemicals, are discarded each year alone in the US, volunteers dispersed over what appeared to be a visibly clean beach, wearing gloves and toting buckets, bags and trash “pluckers”. They returned with over 5,000 toxic butts and a sizable mass of trash. Passersby were astonished at the pile that was accumulated in only 2 hours and were so thankful for the volunteers great work.

Seal Sitters thanks Amy, Dauod and Peggy for making our cleanup so informative. Huge thanks to all of the passionate people who made the beach a much safer home for marine life!

Yesterday afternoon, 42 people attended a Seal Sitters new volunteer training session. All in all, it was a very successful Saturday for wildlife and advocates.

Help wildlife - beach cleanup scheduled for June 13th

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Help keep marine life safe! On Saturday, June 13th, from 9-11:30 am, come on down to Alki Beach (meet at Statue of Liberty Plaza), grab a provided bucket and a pair of “pluckers” and do your part to keep the sea free of dangerous debris.

Did you know that an estimated 80% of marine debris originates from land? Or that 360 billion cigarette butts are discarded in the U.S. alone each year - all of them leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and waterways? Did you know that derelict fishing gear and plastics injure and kill many thousands of marine mammals and seabirds annually?

For Seal Sitters, derelict fishing gear is an up close and personal issue. To find out why and for more details about the cleanup, please visit our website. To ensure we have enough materials on hand for volunteers, an RSVP is requested. Seal Sitters is co-sponsoring this event with partners Seattle Parks, PAWS Wildlife Center and the Alki Community Council.

Volunteers gather mounds of trash from seemingly "clean" Alki

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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
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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.

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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.

"Sentinels of the Sound" beach cleanup June 14th

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Make a difference and join us to remove litter from Alki Beach this season. Seal Sitters, PAWS Wildlife Center and the Alki Community Center are joining forces to sponsor a beach cleanup on Saturday morning, June 14th from 9:30am - 12:30pm. We will assemble at the Statue of Liberty Plaza located at Alki Avenue SW and 61st Ave SW.
Please RSVP.

Prior to dispersing volunteers with materials to pick up trash, Seal Sitters and PAWS Wildlife Center will speak briefly at 9:30 about the dangers of marine debris to wildlife and the difficult rehab of harbor seal pups.

All marine life is endangered by marine debris and pollution. Many, many thousands of marine animals and sea birds die each year from derelict fishing gear, marine debris and pollution. They are entangled and drowned by nets and gear. Strangled and contaminated by plastics. Sea birds choke on plastic and limbs are severed.

This year's beach cleanup events will once again be in honor of seal pup Sandy who was rescued from a West Seattle beach in August of 2011, rehabilitated at PAWS Wildlife Center, and then released back to the wild in January of 2012. Sandy was found dead 66 days later, entangled in derelict fishing gear. The event is also in honor of the juvenile gray whale that died on Arroyos beach in April of 2010. The necropsy revealed only human trash in the whale’s stomach.

Please join us to help save marine life! For more info and to RSVP, please click here.

No "butts" about it - Alki Beach cleanup a success

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Early this morning, 56 adults and children concerned about our marine environment (like 8 year old London from Nevada shown here with her grandmother Jimi), gathered near the Alki Bathhouse intent on cleaning up trash from Alki Beach. Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey spoke briefly about the two marine mammals serving as inspiration for the bi-annual event: seal pup Sandy and the Arroyos gray whale, both of whom suffered grave consequences from marine debris and trash. Kathryn Davis of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance talked about the importance of keeping the Sound free of trash and pollution - and the many ways we can make a positive impact.

Because yesterday was such a dreary, rainy day with not too many beach-goers, there was not the typical overflow of Friday night garbage strewn all over the sidewalks and beach. However, we assured everyone they would find lots of small, harmful trash - including many cigarette butts. In fact, well over an estimated thousand cigarette butts were picked up in a matter of hours along with plastics and paper.

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Why are cigarette filters so harmful? First of all they contain plastic and are often mistaken for food by marine animals and birds. The part of the butt that looks like cotton is actually a cellulose acetate that biodegrades very slowly in the environment. Butts can take up to 5 years to break down in sea water. Since filters are designed to absorb tar and nicotine, they are laced with these toxins as well as lead and cadmium. Within an hour of coming into contact with water, the butts begin to release chemicals. Butts don’t have to be discarded at the beach to end up in our water. They wash down sidewalks and street gutters into storm drains that lead to the rivers, bays and Puget Sound. An estimated 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts are discarded world-wide each year, leaching toxins into the soil and waterways.

The beach cleanup was a great success - all in all, over 100 hours of volunteer time were donated this morning (we’re still tallying the hours) to help keep all of us and the wildlife we love safe. We thank everyone for their hard work and passion! And a special thanks to SS hotline guru Larry Carpenter for puling everything together to make this happen.

"Sentinels of the Sound" beach cleanup in honor of seal pup Sandy

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Make a difference and join us to remove litter from Alki Beach on Saturday, August 3rd. Seal Sitters' Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound project is intended to raise awareness of the impact that humans have on our fragile marine ecosystem (to follow progress of our YOS project on blubberblog, click here).

Harbor seals (who do not migrate and are year-round residents) and orcas, both animals at the top of the food chain, are especially hard hit by pollutants from storm runoff and microplastics which are stored in their blubber. A 2005 study showed that harbor seals of South Puget Sound were 7 times more contaminated with PCBs than those of Canada's Georgia Strait. The orcas of Puget Sound are the most contaminated marine mammals in the world.

All marine life is endangered by marine debris and pollution. Many, many thousands of marine animals and sea birds die each year from derelict fishing gear, marine debris and pollution. They are entangled and drowned by nets and gear. Strangled and contaminated by plastics.

This year's beach cleanup events will once again be in honor of seal pup Sandy who was rescued from a West Seattle beach in August of 2011, rehabilitated at PAWS Wildlife Center, and then released back to the wild in January of 2012. Sandy was fitted with a satellite tag (glued to her fur which would be shed when she molted) to monitor her success in the wild and provide valuable data to biologists about foraging patterns of rehabbed seals. Sixty-six days later, Sandy was found dead, entangled in derlict fishing line off the Edmonds Pier. Read more about Sandy.

Sandy has truly put a face on pollution. Trash on the beach becomes treacherous in the water. You can make a difference! Help keep our beaches clean and our sea life safe.
Read more about marine pollution here.

We would also like to honor the memory of the Arroyos gray whale who stranded and died in 2010. The
necropsy revealed that there was no food in the thin juvenile male's stomach - only human trash.

Seal Sitters, along with co-sponsors Alki Community Council and Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, will hold a cleanup of West Seattle's Alki Beach on Saturday, August 3 from 9am-noon. We will assemble at Alki's Statue of Liberty plaza (61st Ave SW and Alki Ave SW). Please RSVP for this event so we have enough bags and equipment on hand.

Read about last year's event
here.

Beach cleanup a big success as volunteers honor seal pup Sandy

     
Yesterday, 54 passionate volunteers donated hours of their time to help clean up trash along Alki Beach and Constellation Park in honor of seal pup Sandy found dead earlier this year, entangled in derelict fishing line. 23 Seal Sitters and 31 community members (including 6 minors) participated in the event, co-sponsored by Seal Sitters, Alki Community Council and Seattle Parks. Anxious to do their part to help protect sea life from the dangers of marine debris and trash, they scoured the beach and sidewalks armed with buckets, bags and trash grabbers. Peggy Foreman of NOAA talked briefly about marine debris and specifically about the stranded Arroyos gray whale whose stomach contents consisted solely of human trash. 

While the beach did not appear to be as littered as usual on a summer Saturday morning due to a rather rainy Friday, the volunteers filled about 10 large trash bags. They picked up many cans, plastic bottles and caps, countless cigarette butts, and among other things a kayak paddle, a woman's black and pink bra and dirty diapers. Students from UW's Environmental Studies program each donated over 3 hours of their time, picking up bags of trash including spent fireworks on Constellation Beach - fireworks that leave toxic residue and contaminate the Sound. We even had a family drive all the way from Ellensburg, well over 100 miles each way, just to pick up trash on the beach! Brooklyn, the "almost" 9 year old daughter, read about seals on our website, saw the post about Sandy and told her mom and dad (super-parents Vanessa and Kevin) that she wanted to come help seal pups by cleaning up the beach. We can't thank everyone enough for helping out. A total of 128.5 hours were donated yesterday morning. All of these volunteers are a true inspiration and made a difference for our sea life. Special kudos to SS vols David and Eilene Hutchinson and Larry Carpenter.

Find out more about the dangers of marine pollution on Seal Sitters’ website.

Alki Beach cleanup in honor of seal pup Sandy

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On Saturday morning, July 21st, from 9 am - noon, Seal Sitters and Alki Community Council (along with Seattle Parks and Recreation) will sponsor a beach cleanup of Alki and surrounding beaches. This year’s cleanups will be in honor of seal pup Sandy, who was rescued from a West Seattle beach on August 16, 2011. After a lengthy rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center, Sandy was finally released in January of 2012 at an island harbor seal haul out south of Tacoma. Sandy was satellite tagged for scientific purposes and her progress in the wild was followed by approximately 600 people throughout Puget Sound. She travelled from South Puget Sound up to the San Juans and back, around Vashon Island, back to the Olympia area and finally up to Edmonds - where she lingered for a bit. After 66 days of freedom back in the wild, she was found dead by divers on a routine marine debris cleanup. Sandy was entangled in derelict fishing line near the Edmonds pier.

Sandy the seal pup truly puts a face on the dangers of marine pollution and trash. You may also remember the young gray whale that stranded and died on Arroyos Beach - the only contents in his stomach were human trash. Please make a difference and join us. Countless thousands of marine animals die as a result of marine debris, trash and pollution. Trash that is on the beach becomes treacherous in the sea. Read more about marine pollution on Seal Sitters’ website.

Peggy Foreman of NOAA will discuss the dangers of marine debris and pollution shortly after we assemble at 9am. We will meet at the Statue of Liberty (next to the Alki Bathhouse on Alki Beach 61st Ave SW and Alki Avenue SW). Please rsvp for this event as Parks will be providing trash grabbers and buckets for participants.

To print out a copy of this flyer to post at your work or business, please click here. The flyer is a full bleed and may need to be set at “reduce to fit” for some inkjet printers.
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