On September 16th, volunteers from Dune Doctors gathered at Norriego Point, a sandy peninsula surrounded by the brackish waters (where salty and fresh water mix) of the Destin Pass. Norriego Point, nominated one of the best restored beaches in 2020 by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, sits where the Choctawhatchee Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, a biodiverse hotspot that gave rise to Destin being known as The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village. “We selected this location because there was a low volunteer count and Norriego Point catches the debris that floats down from Crab Island’s party scene” said Shabastin Schumpert, a Field Project Leader at Dune Doctors.
From left to right: Isabelle, Carrie, Abby, Jayla, Nick, Larry, Keith, Amanda, Vera, and Bankston
Joining An International Effort for Healthier Waters
The team volunteered their Saturday morning (and a birthday) to be part of a global operation called International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC Day). Ongoing for 35 years, ICC Day has rallied 17 million volunteers who have collectively removed more than 350 million+ pounds of trash, equal in weight to roughly 10,000 garbage collection trucks or 43,000 adult Orcas, from our waterways and coastline. ICC day is an initiative led by the Ocean Conservancy, a marine advocacy group that seeks to promote healthy ocean ecosystems and prevent threats to oceanic and human life.
Cleaning Up Norriego Point, a Peninsula in Destin, FL
“It’s such a joy to be out here today, knowing there are hundreds of thousands of coastal stewards across the world coming together to clean up the coastline. Tomorrow, our marine life, dunes, beaches, and water will breathe a little easier” said Bankston Roberts, Dune Doctors’ Client Success and Sales Manager, pictured above with his niece. Behind them is the Destin harbor, a lively tourist destination that towers over the sandy beach. But, don’t let size fool you. When destructive waves reach the area, Norriego’s jetties help break the waves, dissipating their energy which lessens the risk of damage to the fishing village.
Aside from breaking waves, the jetties also trap debris. Above, Larry, Dune Doctors’ longest standing Dune Technician, worked with Isabelle to find plastic wedged among the jetty’s rocks. When asked what she hoped everyone could know about plastic pollution, Isabelle said “how we make and use plastic on land will help determine the future of our oceans. I know most people don’t mean for their plastic to end up in the water, so it is important to keep working together to clean up all the trash!”
Taking Care of our Coastal and Marine Wildlife
After the team finished collecting trash, they came together to build a sea turtle with scraps of plastic. Snack bags, Styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, bottle caps, and plastic fencing colored in the turtle’s body, a grim reminder that our marine life can’t distinguish food from plastic. Shortly after, the team spotted a juvenile green sea turtle, roughly the same size as the mosaic, searching for food among the rocks. “Seeing the turtle makes my Birthday special” said Keith Pannell a Dune Technician, “I’m so happy we can give back to our wildlife today and everyday that we come to work.”
The juvenile Green Sea Turtle nibbled on algae growing on the jetty’s rocks.
Dune Doctors Promotes Coastal Stewardship
Volunteering is central to Dune Doctors’ mission to promote stewardship of coastal ecosystems. Through education, outreach, and community engagement Dune Doctors works to encourage people to regard the natural coastal environment as a valuable asset. In addition to these efforts, Dune Doctors works year-round to design and implement coastal erosion and preservation solutions that initiate and strengthen protective dune systems along private, commercial, and government properties that line the Gulf of Mexico. To speak with our Coastal Restoration Experts, you can dial 866-386-3737 or reach us directly through our contact us form.