SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Up to 1,000 volunteers spread out across Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties to pick up trash during the 2019 Mississippi Coastal Cleanup.
“They’ve picked up quite a lot, actually. One lady picked up a blanket out of the water," Jessica Gooch, who managed one of 30 registration stations across the coast.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service helped volunteers at 30 stations prepare for the busy morning.
“We’re giving them all of their supplies needed and instructing them the do’s and don’ts of the day," said Gooch, an MSU Extension intern.
That advice included staying away from sharp objects and hazardous waste. Volunteers were encouraged to use data sheets to keep track of what they find.
“We’ve got duct tape, a lot of plastic items, Pringles can," said one group of high school students as they picked through their garbage bag.
The cleanup helps people see the direct impact of pollution on marine life.
“All you see is trash everywhere, and it’s disappointing," said volunteer Azariah Cooper. "Generations to come, we still want this to be a place for people to come and enjoy themselves.
“The fish are getting sick, and we’re eating the fish, so it’s going to make us sick and all that type of stuff," Willa Lawrence added.
Maj. Erskine Cook and his team work for Keesler Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit. Cook remembered a moment from college when a friend stepped on glass and cut her leg.
“She missed two or three days of school and got a little bit of an infection for it. So since that day 20 years ago, I’ve really made it my mission to clean up, particularly pieces of glass off the beach," he said.
The findings from the cleanup track major sources of marine pollution on the Coast. The data will be used by scientists around the world.