The Gulfport Fire Department volunteered at the cleanup, with full trash bags and pickers in hand. Johnny Tricarico, left, Rene Fernandez, Tim Burton, Michael Barber, Morgan Barber and Chris Mathis assembled for a photo at the International Coastal Cleanup.
olunteers gathered at Clam Bayou Nature Preserve in Gulfport Saturday, October 27, visiting the park’s nooks and crannies to gather hidden trash. The cleanup, which ran from 9 a.m. to noon, is part of the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup movement. According to the website for the Ocean Conservancy, the national sponsor, the annual event started in Texas 30 years ago and has been growing ever since. The idea is that if volunteers get trash off the coasts first, it won’t end up in the ocean later.
The Clam Bayou edition of the cleanup brought out volunteers as early as 8 a.m., an hour before the start time, said Kristin Ossola, technical events specialist for the city of Gulfport. Mid-cleanup, 49 people had put their names on the sig-in sheet and 338 pounds of trash had been collected. Volunteer Tom D’Angelo said 338 pounds is a historically large amount of garbage.
“That’s a high number,” said D’Angelo. “We’ve been here six or seven times. That’s a record for us.”
Along with the city, the cleanup also partnered with the local non-profit Keep Pinellas Beautiful.
Gulfport Parks and Recreation employee Sam Anay uses a special tool to weigh a volunteer’s bag of collected trash. An important part of the cleanup is not just collecting and cleaning, said organizers, but weighing and documenting too. Keeping records of the trash year by year helps to identify ways to minimize ocean trash in the future.
Martha and Tom D’Angelo posed for a photo at the check-in table. “We love doing this for a few reasons,” said Martha. “We like helping the city, we meet all kinds of people and we feel like we’re giving back.” The D’ Angelos are Gulfport residents and repeat volunteers for the coastal cleanup event.