NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Volunteers hit beaches and parks across Northeast Florida as part of an international coastal cleanup Saturday morning.
There were at least 30 different locations where people could participate.
Dozens of volunteers in Neptune Beach picked up debris on the beach or anything that might have washed up on the coast, while volunteers at Castaway Island Preserve cleaned up litter and trash as part of the effort led by the Timucuan Parks Foundation.
The city of Jacksonville’s “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Commission” and the National Park Service also partnered for the cleanup.
According to the foundation, volunteers collected more than 9,800 pounds of debris last year in Northeast Florida.
Danielle Ouellette, a Fletcher High School teacher who led the charge in Neptune Beach, said some of the common things volunteers found along the oceanfront were cigarette butts, wrappers from candy or juice boxes, and even abandoned shoes.
She said days like Saturday are crucial for the environment’s well-being.
“They are going to destroy not only the ecosystem itself -- you are going to have really nasty beaches -- but also the organisms that live right off of the coast. We are talking about all of our little reef ecosystems here along the barrier island,” Ouellette said. “We do have several smaller reefs that exist. There are also a lot of small organisms that are dependent on making sure everything is clean and making sure there aren’t any pollutants. They eat those and unfortunately that can kill them.”