Doing your part to keep Anna Maria Island beaches clean is easy. Every year humans dump plastics and garbage into our ecosystem, but if we employ mindfulness this can change. The impact of garbage on the beaches and in waterways is an enormous strain on wildlife. This effect works its way up through the food chain, and has global implications.
Plastics effect on marine birds and wildlife
A 2015 study found that nearly 90% of seabirds are ingesting plastics. Plastics and garbage not only effect seabirds, but also harm hundreds of species of Marine life. Researchers have found many animals deceased with plastic in their stomach and digestive tracts. A few species include sea turtles, whales, dolphins, fish and sea lions.
Up to 80% of marine debris can be attributed to urban runoff and land based sources. This figure gives us insight into the effect of human habits. We can decrease this number by making small changes in our daily life, especially when visiting the beaches of Anna Maria Island.
Top 13 ways to keep Anna Maria Island Beaches Clean
1. The Two Minute Beach Clean
Any time you visit a beach on Anna Maria Island, or elsewhere, you should practice the two minute beach clean. A simple movement, the two minute beach clean started in coastal England. Any time you visit a beach take two minutes from your trip and clean up any debris you see. It’s easy to do a two minute beach clean, and you’ll leave feeling accomplished in doing your part.
2. Be a Conscientious Angler
Fishing line and tackle can take up to 600 years to decompose enough to no longer effect marine animals. When you are fishing on the beaches of Anna Maria Island keep this in mind. Never leave behind debris, and NEVER cut lines caught on wildlife. Reel, remove, release is the best way to care for entanglement, and is the only solution to prevent wildlife deaths.
3. Leave plastic bags at home
Plastic bags are easy to lose on a trip to the beach, and don’t help keep Anna Maria Island beaches clean. Plastic bags can easily fly away with even the smallest of breezes. When you visit Anna Maria Island beaches leave the plastic bag at home, and instead, use a reusable tote or beach bag.
4. Use garbage receptacles
Garbage receptacles are found at almost every public beach access on Anna Maria Island, so use them. Never bury trash in the sand, and always take a quick look around before you leave. If a piece of trash become caught in the wind, chase it down!
5. Join a Beach Clean
Many different organizations and groups hold beach cleaning events. Cleaning the beach sounds like a difficult task, but it is actually fun. Cool off in the gulf, get a little sun, and enjoy the outdoors. Occasionally you may even find something interesting on the beach. Jewelry, coins, sunglasses, beach toys and tons of other goods are rescued from the beaches when you help keep Anna Maria Island beaches cleans. You never know what you’ll find while picking up garbage.
6. Ditch single use plastics
Single use plastics are a huge contributor to marine pollution, and are easily lost at the beach. Avoiding single use plastic is a practice you can implement in your everyday routine, and not just during a trip to Anna Maria Island.
Ask yourself these questions about single use plastic:
Is it really so hard to bring a spoon from home, then bring it back at the end of the day? Why couldn’t you bring a reusable cup instead of a solo cup you’ll use for just a few hours? Is going to the store to buy temporary utensils and flatware actually more convenient than just grabbing the things you already have at home? Does single use plastic actually make your trip more convenient, or is it just something a manufacturer has sold you on?
7. No Butts!
Cigarette butts are one of the most common types of garbage you will find on the beaches of Anna Maria Island. It takes cigarette butts 10-12 years to decompose, so they really start to build up, especially around sand dunes. Smoking on the beach exposes others to second hand smoke, and really just isn’t polite. No one wants to smell cigarette smoke instead of fresh salt air. If you must smoke at the beach NEVER put your butts out in the sand, and pick a fire safe receptacle to park your butts.
8. Leave the pets at home
There are no pets allowed on Anna Maria Island beaches. As much as we love our pets, they can make beaches a very dirty place. Pet waste can become a health hazard due to fecal bacteria, and can also contain parasites that cause health issues for humans and other animals. Only bring you pets to designated pet friendly beaches. If you are visiting Anna Maria Island with a pet you will find pet friendly beaches to the East of the Manatee Bridge along the Palma Sola Causeway Park.
9. Don’t Build Fires
Fires of any kind are not permitted on Anna Maria Island beaches. Fire can easily spread on the beach, and cause great ecological damage to sensitive beach dune. Debris leftover from fires makes the beach dirty, and an unsafe place for beach wildlife.
10. Barbecue in designated areas
Many of the public beaches on Anna Maria Island offer designated grilling areas. Grilling on the beach can be unsafe for both people and wildlife. You can find designated grilling areas on Anna Maria Island at Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach and Bay Front Park.
11. Pick up Food Waste
Pieces of food left on the beach are harmful. When you leave the beach don’t leave food around. Human food is not meant to be eaten by beach wildlife, and can attract predator species out to coastal areas. When predator species come on to the beach they disturb natural processes such as nesting. Food can attract animals such as Raccoons and Feral Cats that don’t belong. These predators will stick around, and eat shorebirds, baby birds, and both bird and turtle eggs. These predators can have an enormous effect on beach ecosystems.
Do not feed wildlife! The seagulls might be cute, and persistent, but DO NOT FEED THEM! Seagulls are not meant to eat human food, and can become sick. Seagulls can also confuse plastics with human food, and mistakenly eat plastic. When you feed seagulls on the beach it makes them aggressive toward people causing them to snatch food out of your hand. This behavior is bad for both the Seagull and people, and does not help keep Anna Maria Island beaches clean.
12. Be a Conscientious Boater
It is all too easy for plastics and garbage to fly off your boat. When enjoying the waters around Anna Maria Island be sure to keep items secure. Pinterest offers tons of great boat organization hacks to keep items in place and secure. If you come across floating garbage while boating pluck it out of the water, but only if you can do so safely.
13. Donate to Environmental Organizations
There are tons of not for profit organizations that care for the environment on both local and global levels. You can help keep Anna Maria Island beaches clean by supporting the efforts of organizations such as Keep Manatee Beautiful. This organization is dedicated to litter prevention. Also, consider supporting the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring. This great non-profit monitors and protects local wildlife, and they also help keep Anna Maria Island beaches clean with beach clean up efforts.
Reserve your Anna Maria Island vacation rental or accommodations today at AnnaMariaIsland.com!