Volunteers clean Kealia Beach

After recently cleaning Kealia Beach in Kaua‘i, Surfrider Foundation members and local volunteers are hopping islands today to take the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project to Ala Moana Park on O‘ahu.

More than 60 Kaua‘i residents helped pick up debris, bottles, trash and litter scattered across the popular Eastside stretch of sand known as Kealia Beach, said Sheri Sarri, who leads the Surfrider Foundation Kaua’i Chapter beach cleanups.

“Beach stewardship is important for the island of Kaua‘i, not only for aesthetic reasons, but to reduce the amount of trash that enters and/or returns to the ocean,” she said. “Barefoot’s goal was to make Kealia “barefoot friendly”… and we did.”

Steve, a Kilauea businessman who declined to share his last name, said he attended the Kealia Beach cleanup Saturday morning to protect native species.

“I live by a philosophy where if you walk by a piece of litter, you own it. More people should live this way,” he said, adding that the Kealia Beach cleanup was great because dozens of passers-by joined in the effort.

Marine debris is a serious issue in the state of Hawai‘i, according to Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization.

“The debris poses a significant threat to marine mammals, coral reefs and seabirds,” Sarri said. “Monk seals, humpback whales and green sea turtles become entangled in free-floating, abandoned fishing nets.”

Kaua’i seabirds unknowingly ingest small pieces of plastic while fishing, she added.

Scientists dissecting Albatross chick boluses from Kilauea Point have discovered plastic bottle caps, fishing line and pieces of plastic mixed in the indigestible matter.

“The chicks can die of starvation and dehydration when marine debris accumulates in their stomachs,” Sarri said.

The Kealia cleanup was the third event in the first year of the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project. There was a native planting June 2 at Ho‘okipa Beach in Maui and a cleanup June 16 of Rockaway Beach, N.Y.

The Hawai‘i portion of the initiative wraps up today in Honolulu with a beach cleanup from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Ala Moana Park followed by a celebration to toast everyone’s hard work from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Brew Moon.

For more information, visit www.barefootwine.com/beachrescue. To get involved with Surfrider Foundation, visit www.surfrider.org or call 652-4648.

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