ST. PETERSBURG -- Audubon’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries hosted a Clean-Up Blitz on February 8 with more than 80 people participating. The effort, aided by community partners including Keep Pinellas Beautiful and Tampa Bay Watch, aimed to improve water quality, restore coastal habitat, and enhance the aesthetics of Tampa Bay.
“We are pleased to get the community behind an effort to make a more park-like, more environmentally positive, less polluted area here where Pinellas and St. Petersburg welcomes residents and visitors to our county and city,” said Ann Paul, Audubon Florida’s Coastal Islands Sanctuaries Regional Coordinator.
Volunteers of all ages spent the cool, sunny morning collecting plastic, glass, and metal debris, helping make the area more safe for human and avian visitors. In all, 4,460 pounds of debris was hauled away, and, volunteers even enjoyed a bird walk led by an Audubon biologist, who pointed out an important wintering and staging site for multiple species of shorebirds including Least Tern, Black Skimmer, and Wilson's Plover right there, along the causeway.
Tampa Bay is one of Florida’s most spectacularly beautiful and biologically valuable water bodies. It is the largest open-water estuary in the state, is fed by four major river systems, and provides important nesting and foraging habitat for many coastal bird species.
"It's essential that we work together to combat marine debris through community coastal cleanups to protect wildlife and water quality and ultimately improve the health of Tampa Bay," said Rachel Arendt, Communications Manager for Tampa Bay Watch.
Paul is proud of Tampa Bay and appreciates the efforts of the many agencies, businesses, and individuals working to protect. “This Clean-Up Blitz represents a small part of that effort,” Paul added.
"The Tampa Bay Estuary is a key nursery ground, responsible for so many of the marine and bird species that we all enjoy,” said Bill Leever, a volunteer who was the inspiration for this clean-up. “It is a pleasure to be part of the Gandy changes that benefit us all," he added.
For more than a century, Audubon has encouraged people to take care of the places that make Florida special. Using science to guide our work and birdlife to measure ecosystem health, Audubon Florida works to protect land, water, and wildlife. Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow.