Monday, September 14, 2009

International Cleanup Day and Coast Day on Saturday

A rescued loggerhead turtle will be released into the ocean on Sept. 19, a day that will include two important events each designed to enlighten, educate and engage people from all backgrounds and ages about the health and importance of our coastal region.

The first event begins at 9 am at the Assateague Island National Seashore for the 24th International Beach Cleanup Day. This local coastal cleanup organized by the Assateague Coastal Trust is part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup designed to engage people to “remove trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways, identify the sources of debris, and change the behaviors that cause marine debris in the first place.”

Participating in Coastal Cleanup Day is a great way for families, students, service groups, and neighbors to join together to remove trash from our coastlines, show community support for our shared natural resources and learn about the impacts discarded trash on our fragile marine environment.

Last year more than 260 volunteers collected 3,269 pounds of trash off of Assateague National Park – trash that if not removed is bad for our tourism economy, hurts our seafood industries, harms species and entire ecosystems essential for marine life to survive. Participating in the Cleanup makes a big impact, empowering people to become involved in supporting a healthy coastline. Registration for the cleanup at Assateague National Seashore begins at 8 am at the Ranger Station. Participants should supply their own bug spray, sunscreen and work gloves.

The 13th annual Maryland Coast Day begins at 11 am at Assateague State Park. This free, family-oriented festival of wildlife, entertainment and environmental education is a fun day of coastal ecology awareness, children’s activities, live music and great local food. The event will kick off when officials from the National Aquarium release a rescued loggerhead turtle back into its ocean home.

This popular festival that attracts about 3,000 visitors is held each year to celebrate the wildlife, culture and natural resources of Maryland’s coastal region. The event includes exhibits from more than 30 organizations, including the National Aquarium, the Salisbury Zoo, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Scales and Tales and Coast Kids. There’s more fun to be had with arts and crafts, a touch tank, live animal exhibits, live music by the Knuckleheads, and activities and demos, such as sand castle building, marine mammal rescue drills, surf-casting demos and Native American dancing.

This year will include a new exhibit by local musician and artist Charlie Flagiello. Flagiello’s Other Than Footprints display is a grouping of jars that contain sand along with litter – cigarette butts, bottle caps, wrappers – he collected during his off-season jogs on the beach. This simple yet powerful and innovative display was recently featured in USA Today and was showcased at the Ocean Pines and Berlin libraries over the summer.

Coast Day is co-hosted by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Friends of Assateague State Park, Assateague State Park, Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences, Assateague National Seashore and Assateague Coastal Trust.

Coast Day is sponsored by Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Town of Ocean City, Choptank Electric, Red Sun Apparel, Sun Signs and artist Kirk McBride. For more information about both events call 410-629-1538.

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