Marine Debris Cleanup + Night Snorkel

Happy Sunday everyone! We just got back from an exciting night snorkel out on the patch reef. It was exhilarating to see how different the patch reef looked at night compared to how it looked when we had gone out during the day. While we were there tonight, I identified a tiger tail sea cucumber (Holothuria thomasi) hidden under some large mound corals. Though only about a foot and a half of it was visible, I could tell there was more of its body going under the corals. I also identified a couple donkey dung sea cucumbers (Holothuria mexicana) by the sandy areas near the bases of some large coral colonies and a red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa) buried among the sand.

A red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa) buried among the sand
A red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa) buried among the sand

Going back to the beginning of our day, we spent the morning cleaning up marine debris along the windward side of Middle Caye and analyzing the types of debris that we found. Interestingly enough, we found very few plastic bags, lots of children’s toys, and equal trash bags full of Styrofoam and plastic (although plastic made up 50% of our collected debris by weight). Among the fourteen of us, we collected about 91 pounds of debris in an hour. That sounds like a lot, but there was still so much out there that we weren’t able to pick up.

Marine debris
Marine debris collected from the windward side of Middle Caye

It astounds me that the amount of debris that we collected had accumulated in a week (the people here at Glover’s do weekly clean-ups) and that so much of it travels here due to the Gulf of Honduras circulation patterns. With that said, I think we all came away from the experience with higher expectations for ourselves to try to do our part in terms of recycling and using more sustainable products. It was definitely an eye-opening experience and was especially interesting for me since I had just given my lecture on marine debris the night before. Anyway, that’s all for now everyone! I’m going to try to catch the sunrise tomorrow. 🙂

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