Madeira is a “Leave No Trace Beach” – that means what you bring to the beach should leave with you. But that’s not always the case. Enter the Trash Pirates.
“Everyone wants to be a pirate,” says Audrey Cevaer, co-founder of Madeira Beach’s Trash Pirates, a community group on a mission to keep the beach clean.
Trash on the beach, however, often starts on the streets. Debris and litter adds up; a passerby throws a cigarette butt on the pavement; a kid leaves a plastic cup on the ground. When a storm comes through, runoff carries the debris straight to the sewers that empty into the bay. More work for the pirates.
Beach perils abound, however. During the Trash Pirates’ monthly meetings, Ceaver says that, in addition to cleaning trash in the bay and on the beach, the group has also rescued turtles from holes that were not filled in and those that got stuck under beach cabanas.
“So it’s really important for our environment that we leave the beach the way we found it: clean,” Cevaer said.
Red tide did not prevent the clean ups, but according to Cevaer, fewer volunteers showed up due to the smell.
“Red tide didn’t affect our cleanup, our dates that we do. We do the first Saturday of every month,” Cevaer said. “John’s Pass was a little stinky, because that’s where they have the staging area for the fish cleanup, but our public works department, they were out there all the time trying to get the fish off the beach. As soon as they were up, washed up on shore, there was a rake, somebody was going up and down the beach picking it up.”
Ceaver, along with her Trash Pirates co-founder and neighbor, Kandi Maiden, formed the group after witnessing a live manatee birth off their docks. A few days after the birth, a storm carried all debris from the streets into the bay,
Inspired to keep the baby manatee safe, Ceaver and Maiden began picking up trash in the bay and the street. While they were armed with trash bags and nets, the idea struck them to have an ambassador to keep each street clean.
“If we can nip it in the bud by keeping our streets clean as well as our beach, we’ll be that much further ahead of ourselves,” Ceaver said.
Education is one of the driving forces to keep this program alive, according to Ceaver.
“We really encourage our volunteers to go out on their street and pick up what trash they see so it doesn’t go through the stormwater drains. And we encourage them to secure their own garbage cans. If we all took care of our little corner of the world, then we wouldn’t really have this environmental issue,” Ceaver said. “We also try to do it with kindness and respect.”
Join the cleanups on the first Saturday of every month. The next one is on September 4 at two meeting locations: Archibald Park and the beach side of John’s Pass. Visit fb.com/madeirabeachtrashpirates for more.