Shelli Martin is never sure what she’ll find when she goes out on the beach after July 4. Sometimes she’ll just find mounds of cigarettes and cases of beer. Sometimes the beach volunteer finds an entire abandoned cabana.


Beach volunteers scoured the sands of Jacksonville Beach Saturday morning to clean up trash left from Independence Day celebrations. About 60 volunteers picked up trash along Jacksonville Beach as part of an annual clean up hosted by the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol, Keep Jacksonville Beautiful and the City of Jacksonville. The beach cleanup has been an annual event since at least 1985, according to Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol.

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Trash is common on beaches after any weekend, but especially after the Fourth of July, said Martin, a Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol spokeswoman. Garbage will wash into the ocean with the tides and can kill sea animals, which eat plastic and other items but have no way to digest those materials.

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Nesting sea turtles also have to dodge beach chairs and other garbage left on the sand by partygoers. Nesting season started in May, and many loggerhead turtles lay their eggs on Jacksonville Beach.

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“There’s probably 100 [online] pictures of sea turtles under chase lounges looking for a place to nest,” Martin said.

Beach volunteer Sharon James, a Jacksonville Beach resident, walked along the shore Saturday morning and scoured the ground. She picked up a few cigarettes and two chicken bones. This year, volunteers found children’s bubble toys, toddler sippy cups, balloons and fireworks.

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She also spent part of the morning filling in holes along the beach. Families dig pits to relax in, she said, but the holes trap nesting sea turtles.

“You find piles of cigarette butts. You uncover them and you find 50 of them,” she said. “We’ve been up and down the beach enough times, and we’re still finding stuff.”


Meredith Rutland: (904) 359-4161