CIFEC students took to the beach along South Sound on Wednesday (7 November) to clear up plastic debris.
It was part of their water-sports apprenticeship, which includes a module on the environment.
“What else have we got in here? we’ve got some beer bottles, glass bottles, oil containers….” said Katie Correia from the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, as she examined what the group of six CIFEC students, supported by their teacher Ms. Katy Bayles, had collected in one hour.
A hunk of fibreglass from a boat, the most dramatic discovery. But it was a six-pack rings that provoked the most concern.
“Those things can wrap around turtles’ necks and strangle them… it’s important that we pick up as much garbage as we can,” student Jeremy Fedrick explained.
By 2050, scientists estimate there could well be more plastic than fish in the world’s waters. With much of that debris washing up on beaches like those in Cayman, the beach clean was about more than just aesthetics.
As part of their studies, the CIFEC students are learning about the positive changes divers can make to the environment.
For Mr. Fedrick, Cayman’s buoyant tourism industry is under threat if the plastic problem is not brought under control.
“Tourists here come to look at the beauties of the Cayman Islands, reefs and everything like that,” he said.
Of course, not every piece of debris poses a threat to the environment.
“Who had a coconut?” Ms. Correia asked, laughing, as she pulled the bio-degradable item out of the rubbish bag.
Plastic-free beaches in Cayman mean everyone can enjoy the beach, from four-legged friends, to sea-dwelling creatures via tourists and locals alike.
And a reminder, if you are inspired to pick up some plastic of your own this weekend, be wary of broken glass, fishing hooks, syringes and other sharp objects you may find.
The Pirates Week committee is hosting their own clean up on Barkers Beach on Monday (12 November) at 8:30 a.m.