WAILUA — The king tides are leaving micro-plastic debris in their wake, and some Kauai residents want to do something about it.
“There’s a lot more micro-plastic, and it gets more and more brittle from sunlight,” said Tommy Noyes, with Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park. “When you pick up a plastic bottle it crumbles, and those flakes keep getting smaller. They don’t deteriorate, they just get smaller.”
It’s especially bad at Morgan’s Ponds at Lydgate Beach Park. The last time micro-plastic was removed from the area was in December.
“Now we have high concentration of those in a line on the beach,” Noyes said.
He estimates that about 200 yards of beach is littered with micro-plastic.
That’s why the nonprofit organization is asking for more volunteers to help clean the beach Saturday.
“If we go in and remove sand and micro-plastic by skimming off the top layer of sand, then we can put it in a container of water. The sand will sink, and all of floating plastic will stay on the surface,” Noyes said. “That way, we can keep beach sand and dispose of the plastic.”
Because that involves more work than what regular volunteers do at weekly beach clean-ups, Noyes is asking the public for help.
“Normally, there’s about a dozen regular volunteers who show up on Saturday mornings to manage driftwood that comes in,” he said.
Noyes is hoping to triple that number on Saturday. By having 50 people working, the task won’t be as daunting.
“If you look up after half an hour, it’s mostly done because you have that many people,” he said. “It’s really gratifying, and we enjoy doing it.”
The community work day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will run until 10:30 a.m. The Friends of Lydgate and Kamalani Park will provide the equipment, but asks volunteers to bring their own work gloves and sunscreen.
King tides have been making waves on Kauai since May. Last week, the tides combined with a swell to bring the ocean up 3 feet at Nawiliwili Harbor.
King tides aren’t an unusual event. Researchers have been using them for years to study coastal erosion and determine sea level changes, but they’re drawing more attention this year. That’s because the water levels around Hawaii have been 6 to 10 inches above the predicted tides under normal conditions since early 2016.
“Plastic in the ocean is not going away, and king tides will happen again — it’s just a matter of when the stars align,” Noyes said.