Volunteers needed for coastal cleanup

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary seeks individuals and groups to participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s 31st annual International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 16. Last year, volunteers collected more than 18 million pounds of trash globally – that’s more than the combined weight of 437 whale sharks, organizers say.

Among the most frequently found items were cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles and caps, straws, plastic bags and food wrappers – all of which can injure and kill wildlife and marine animals. Some of the more odd finds in 2016 were toilets, anchors and shopping carts.

For the locations of cleanups throughout the Florida Keys, visit signuptocleanup.org or contact Eric.Raslich@noaa.gov or (305) 809-4727 to learn more about how to host your own shoreline cleanup.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the State of Florida manage the sanctuary.