The Beginning--the Boring History--Why Do A Good Deed?
Why do you want to do that? There’s nothing in return for you? I’ve been asked that many times over the years, and asked myself, what pushes someone to do a good deed? My answers--because there are more than one--are, why not; it’s the right thing to do; it will make a difference; and last, it is how I was raised. This last one--how I was raised--is what motivates me the most.
We didn’t have much growing up, but at the same time, we had everything, and what we didn’t have, we made it up, made it work, made it us--parts from something else to get an item working again, curtains for dresses and hand me downs, having to wear dorky shoes and endure bullying over it because they were better for your feet; one large present for all the children teaching us how to share; stuffing nine people into an automobile and driving cross country in the summer months so we could see what was beyond our backyard and experience and learn about people and the history of our country; being inclusive with family, friends and strangers, and strong values.
My parents—I was fortunate to have two—taught us that there is always someone with less than you and you will learn from your mistakes (yes, indeed, there were many of those, and as life goes, it is a work in progress).
They introduced us to the values that helped shape us—honesty, integrity, working together, respect, responsibility and more which instilled in us the difference between right and wrong and fair versus unfair and so much more. Now, with that said, I was not a goody-two-shoes…far from it, but I was always helping someone or something in need, and yes, still learning from my mistakes.
I am one of those individuals that believe in giving back and that one person can make a difference. It may not be obvious right away, but I know that my small part will be one piece of a whole and my small part will make a difference. Guess what? You, too, can make a difference.
HEROES - TURTLE DEEDS
HEROES--The many volunteers of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch who spend countless hours selflessly patrolling miles of Longboat Key, Florida beaches searching for turtle tracks and nest, know that they are making a difference.
They mark found nests with stakes and tape and collect data to assist scientific research on these endangered and threatened species. Sun, heat, cold, humidity, rain…nothing stops these volunteers. These volunteers would be what the Wizard in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, calls, “Good Deed Doers”. They educate the public about the sea turtles and on good stewardship. Most people are not aware that these female sea turtles have returned to the very beach on Longboat Key that they left as hatchlings themselves, 30-50 years or so before. Amazing! The LBK Turtle Watch volunteers however, do.
They also know that out of 1,000 turtle hatchlings, only 1 will make it to maturity. They know that hatchlings can get disoriented by bright lights—house lights, flashlights, camera lights, headlights--and crawl away from the sea, never to live another day. They know that holes dug in fun by beach visitors and not filled back in when they leave can be a death trap to a hatchling or adult turtle. They know that beach chairs, umbrellas, toys and such can bring certain death to a hatchling or adult turtle if they are caught up in them or disoriented by the item(s) left.
Sadly, they see the trash left behind by beach visitors. They know that the balloons, water bottles, bright toys, ropes, plastic cups, fishing lines will make their way out to sea and appear as food to an unsuspecting turtle or other marine life which cannot digest it leading to a slow death. Our trash kills. Our trash maims—fishing line wraps around heads, fins, bodies of turtles and marine life.
Think how you have swerved out of the way at the last minute from an item on a highway that would have brought great harm or death had you not seen it. Reflect on how you would be if your child or you swallowed a bite of food only to realize there was a piece of sharp glass or knotted string in it. You know what you would do, but what do turtles do?
PICK UP YOUR TRASH or just as important…ask someone else who heads out leaving theirs behind to pick up theirs. Find the courage to find your voice and do what is right. One person can make a difference.
Hallelujah - TURTLE PARTNERSHIPS
I had the good fortune to shadow one of the LBK Turtle Watch volunteers for a few days (thanks Mike). What an education. I was amazed and humbled--amazed at how much these volunteers know, how much they care, how much they share, and how much they do. It is humbling to to know how sea turtles play a crucial role in our marine ecosystem, yet we humans still knowingly harm them.
According to Oceana.org, ".. Whether by grazing on seagrass, controlling sponge distribution, feasting on jellyfish, transporting nutrients or supporting other marine life, sea turtles play vital roles in maintaining the health of the oceans."
(GUESS WHAT.....PLASTIC BAGS AND OTHER TRASH LOOKS LIKE JELLY FISH!)
According to See Turtles.org, the biggest threats to sea turtles are: Entanglement in fishing gear;
Consumption and illegal trade of eggs, meat, and shells; Coastal development; Plastic and other marine debris; Global warming; Ocean pollution, and Turtleshell Trade
On one of our days together I was introduced to two other long-time LBK Turtle Watch volunteers who were upset about all the trash they had collected that day. They mentioned wanting to find an artist that could do something with it to educate people about the trash, the hazards of it for the turtles, the beaches, and ourselves. Well, I said, I am an artist, and I could do something …how about a sea turtle sculpture from all the trash. There it would be…turtle trash for all to see. That was in May 2019 and that was when the Turtle Trash Beach Art project came to be. Da, da!!!!
THE BEGINNING and THE PROCESS
The LBK Turtle Watch volunteers will collect trash during their patrols throughout turtle season (May through October), and I will create a seaturtle sculpture from their turtle trash for display at the end of the 2019 season. Together, we hope to bring awareness of these magnificent sea turtles and how each of us can make a difference in keeping our beaches clean (LBK Turtle Watch is an Adopt A Shore Partner with Keep Manatee Beautiful.)
First step...I purchased two black tubs with lids. The LBK Turtle Watch volunteers marked both and placed one at their start/stop location. They brought their found beach trash back and deposited it into the bin. Once a bin was filled, it was delivered to me and the other empty bin is put in its place to be filled.
I then take the bin, remove all items (PEE-EW!!!!!! ICK…GROSS ...WHAT WAS I THINKING?) and lay them out for inventory before I rinse them with the hose. I then take a photo/video (see below for photos/videos) for this blog and for future educational purposes, sort the items into mesh bags and soak them in another container with a bleach mixture to disinfect them. A day or two later the items are removed, dried, sorted again and stored. Next step…WAIT for the next bin of turtle trash. Ho hum, ho hum…
How is it that we plan to go to the beautiful beaches and decide to spend our limited free time to seek out nice toys, goggles/face masks and snacks for the little ones and then spend our hard-earned money to purchase the items only to leave them ALL behind on the beach. One can’t use the excuse that they didn’t see the fluorescent pink, yellow, green bucket and shovel, face mask, or empty cookie/chip bag laying there on the white sand. After lugging all that stuff down to the beach they could not use the excuse they forgot they had it. No, that someone made a conscious decision to leave behind those items. What lesson did they teach their children and friends…everything is disposable, it is okay to be lazy, to litter, it is okay to have others pick up after you, it is okay to litter the beach then complain that the beach is unkempt, it is okay to let your beach items float or fly away into the water. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME…
So, why the song and dance about toys…because found in the turtle trash are umpteen bright plastic children’s toys; goggles and face masks. These are not small items like bottle caps (LOTS OF THOSE THOUGH), these are toys that parents and guardians bought for the children then LEFT ON THE BEACH! Why?
Turtle Trash Blogger Over and Out--for today only…
Stay tuned for your next Turtle Trash Update and ...
Share this blog so others will hopefully be more responsible ... and
"DARE TO BE DIFFERENT...BY MAKING A DIFFERENCE"
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Here are some photos some of the first two batches turtle trash collected to date...more to be posted later so check back: