When most people think about Miami, it's usually the food, the music, the nightlife, and South Beach that come to mind. However, there is a lesser-known feature located in the heart of Miami, located between its downtown area and its famous beaches, that happens to be one of the most important estuary ecosystems in the region.
Biscayne Bay may be home to the stars, but it's also home to a number of endangered species and many other types of fish and wildlife that need protection from ocean plastic pollution and other man-made debris.
The shores of Biscayne Bay are lined with condos, megayachts, and multi-million dollar mansions. On the weekends, some of its mangrove islands become a mecca for boaters looking to get their party on.
Unfortunately, all of those party people leave a lot of plastic pollution and refuse behind. We teamed up with the Miami Police Department Marine Division and their Youth Police Explorers to put the clink on Biscayne Bay, Pace Picnic Island, and all their trash.
Make sure to check out this high-energy video we put together from the cleanup! And the fantastic coverage we received on Right This Minute nationally!
Located in the northern part of Biscayne Bay, Pace Picnic Island is only accessible by boat. On busy weekends and holidays, dozens of boats and jet skis can be seen pulling up on the beach or at anchor around its edges. Sometimes more than a hundred people at a time are crammed onto this tiny strip of land. Even though there are signs all over the island urging people to pack out their trash, inevitably, much of it gets left behind.
Once we had the muscle, we set up shop and got to work. Six of Miami Dade's finest police divers hit the water and the rest of us hit the island. The variety of trash we found was really astounding! Lighters, cans, bottles, carpet (yes, carpet), food containers, ballpoint pens, Crown Royale stirrers, and five pairs of shoes –– shoes, really? But the kids from the Youth Police Explorers were up for the challenge and they were really excited to help out.
All in all, it ended up being a great day with the crew and we made a serious dent in the amount of trash on the island. That's something we can all be proud of. Hopefully, we saved the sea turtles, manatees, birds, sharks, and fish of Biscayne Bay from coming into contact with these potentially dangerous and life-threatening objects. The trash from Pace Picnic Island is now under arrest and will never see the light of day — or the ocean — again!
Have any of you ever been to Biscayne Bay? Maybe you hit some of these islands for a bit of fun on the water, too? Let us know in the comments below.
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The ocean plastic crisis may seem like a relatively recent phenomenon with how much attention it's received over the last decade. However, this situation extends decades beyond modern-day — and the inception of plastic itself stretches even further. Understanding the history of ocean plastic pollution gives us a glimpse into how this material became so pervasive and how we might learn from past behaviors.