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First Ever Large Scale Mangrove Cleanup in the Territory Nets Thousands of Pounds of Debris

The Great Mangrove Cleanup, the first large-scale community cleanup of the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER), took place last Saturday, April 21. STEER is a marine protected area on the east end of St. Thomas. One hundred twenty-six volunteers gathered to remove debris, large and small, from STEER’s mangrove shorelines. 

“A clean-up of this scale, in such a difficult-to-access environment, like the mangroves, has never been done before in St. Thomas,” said Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes, research assistant professor of Watershed Ecology.”  Through the hard work of 126 people, we cleaned more than 3,000 pounds of trash from the mangroves in a single day. What an amazing team effort by all the volunteers who gave up part of their Saturday to make this happen and a huge thank you to our sponsors who made this event possible.” 

“We picked up 1,765 plastic beverage containers on Saturday, more than four times any other item we collected that wasn’t broken into pieces,” said Dr. Grimes. “That’s an incredible number for such a small section of shoreline. What that tells me, is that if we want to reduce marine debris in the USVI, we should think about what we drinking out of, where we dispose of it, and where it might end up.” 

Conservatively, organizers estimate more than 3,000 pounds of trash were removed from mangrove shorelines of STEER. The vast majority of debris originated from land-based versus marine-based sources with 90-95 percent of items and most of the items collected, approximately 65-70 percent, were plastic. These patterns are consistent with marine debris patterns globally. 

More information is available in a news release on the Media Section of the UVI website – - and from this direct link.