In the past four months Alternative Break program volunteers removed over seven tons of marine debris from sea turtle nesting beaches in Biscayne National Park. Nearly 200 volunteers from sixteen universities and local organizations helped restore park beaches and greatly improve the chances of nesting success for threatened and endangered sea turtles.
“When large amounts of debris clutter the beaches, sea turtles may abandon attempts to nest,” said Dr. Vanessa McDonough, park fishery and wildlife biologist. “The presence of debris on the beaches is also problematic for sea turtle hatchlings. Hatchlings that are unable to overcome debris as they crawl to the ocean will succumb to predation, dehydration or starvation.”
Alternative Break is a program for students who wish to spend their winter or spring break participating in meaningful, service-oriented volunteer work instead of engaging in the partying typically associated with college breaks. For the past four months 199 Alternative Break volunteers spent 1665 hours to remove more than seven tons (14,439 pounds) of marine debris from the park’s coastlines. Removing this debris provides sea turtles with a better shot at nesting success, boosts the number of sea turtle hatchlings that make it to the open water and makes the beaches more accessible and attractive for park visitors.
Biscayne National Park hosts Alternative Break volunteers who assist in habitat restoration of important sea turtle nesting beaches as well as other coastal areas throughout the park. Financial support is provided by the South Florida National Parks Trust and the National Park Service. Park personnel and the Coastal Cleanup Corporation provide logistical and field support.
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 atwww.twitter.com/biscaynenps.