Orange-and-black monarch butterflies fought a strong headwind as they fluttered across Jones Beach State Park on Sept. 15 during their annual migration from northerly climes to Mexico. And joining them on the beach on this breezy Saturday were more than 300 volunteers committed to protecting natural habitats that support creatures such as the monarch, including many Merrick-Bellmore residents.
As part of the Ocean Conservancy’s 25th annual International Coastal Cleanup, New York State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., of Merrick, the state Department of Parks and Recreation, and the nonprofit Freeport SPLASH (Stop Polluting Littering and Save Harbors) hosted a volunteer cleanup of Jones Beach’s West End, on the sands south of the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center.
The effort began at 8 a.m. and went to 1 p.m. In all, volunteers gathered more than 2,000 pounds of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, Styrofoam buoys, balloons, ribbons and all manner of trash along the ribbon of white known as “the American Riviera.”
According to the 40-year-old Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, more than 8.5 million volunteers have traversed nearly 300,000 miles to collect 144 million pounds of trash at International Coastal Cleanups over the past two and a half decades. Participants hail from 10 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Ecuador, South Africa, India and the Philippines.
For more on the Ocean Conservancy, check out oceanconsevancy.org.