In recent years, the beaches of Anna Maria Island have become less pristine. Although they still compare well to most beaches, there has been an increase in litter. It doesn’t all come from those who spend time at the beach, but much of it does. In addition, trash from boats washes ashore.
The biggest problem is how this affects our precious wildlife. Sea turtles, who eat jelly fish, can easily mistake a plastic bag for food. We’ve all see birds entangled in fishing line, or caught in plastic, such as that which comes with six-packs of cans. There are many small pieces of colored plastic on the beach, from toys and containers and other objects that have broken up, but are not going to decompose for many more years. Such small, bright items are interesting to birds. It is sad how many pieces of plastic are found in the stomachs of dead sea birds.
July 4 always brings crowds to the beach—and litter. Especially before law enforcement cracked down on private fireworks, the amount of firework remnants all along the island’s beaches on the morning of July 5 was shocking. Fortunately, there are people on the island who walk the beach with garbage bags, picking up a lot of this trash after the July 4 celebration. They are not paid or organized. They are the perfect example of good private citizens just trying to keep the place they love clean and beautiful.
Whenever I see people visitors bending over to pick up beach shells, I wish they would follow the example of the islanders and consider bending over to pick up trash, too. For those who love beauty, removing ugly trash should be just as satisfying as collecting beautiful things from the beach.
It’s troubling to notice more and more cigarette butts in the sand. Those are particularly unpleasant to try to pick up, and they’re so small it’s easy to miss them or skip them. But they certainly ruin the feeling of a wide, white, pristine beach.
It would be nice if the trash problem could continue to be addressed adequately by considerate people who don’t litter, and who pick up the litter of others. When it becomes necessary to put signs everywhere, posting rules, regulations and penalties, the signs become a sort of litter, themselves. The clutter and negativity of signs issuing warnings can greatly compromise the kind of experience we still enjoy an Anna Maria Island’s beaches.