A 180 foot long and 6,000 pound plastic pipe was removed from the shoreline of Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park. The pipe washed up on a beach where sea turtles nest. Last week park personnel, volunteers and other agencies and organizations teamed up to remove the pipe.
“A massive piece of marine debris is no longer littering nesting habitat for threatened and endangered sea turtles,” said Elsa Alvear, Chief of Resource Management. “As an added bonus a large volume of plastic has been kept out of local landfills thanks to creative recycling efforts.”
Removing the pipe from Elliott Key required a team effort among park employees, volunteers, university students, government agencies and private organizations. The 180 foot long pipe was made of hard plastic between one and two inches thick and almost a foot and a half in diameter. Lloyd Brown of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue used a chainsaw to cut the pipe into 62 pieces. Each piece was between two and five feet long and weighed from 60 to 100 pounds. Volunteers including students from the University of Miami and Tulane University, rolled the pieces into the ocean and then onto boats. The challenging work took five days to complete.
With sea turtle nesting season just around the corner, leaving the pipe on the beach was not an option. Large objects like this pipe create insurmountable obstacles for sea turtles. Sea turtles come ashore to nest in the park between May and October.
While the origins of the pipe are a mystery, Miami-Dade County confirmed that the pipe was not the type used by the Port of Miami dredging project.
Some of the pipe pieces were transferred to Wildlife Rescue of Dade County where they will be fashioned into dens for injured and orphaned animals. Animals that may use the dens include bobcats, foxes and rabbits. The same pipe that once threatened wildlife will now help wildlife. TruGreen Plastics Corporation recycled the remainder of the pieces.
For a video of the pipe removal please see YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOEnx0gWYBk&feature=youtu.be.For more information about Biscayne National Park please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/bisc or follow the park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/biscaynenps or Twitter at www.twitter.com/biscaynenps.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.