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Nicholls students, faculty help remove more than 4,000 pounds of litter from Elmer’s Isle

Nicholls students, faculty help remove more than 4,000 pounds of litter from Elmer’s Isle


Nicholls State University faculty and students helped remove more than 4,000 pounds of debris from Elmer’s Isle during Ocean Conservancy’s 31st Annual International Coastal Cleanup Day.

Forty-two student and faculty volunteers from the Nicholls Biological Sciences Department teamed with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to collect, categorize and weigh waste found along the beach during the event held on Sept. 16.

“Marine debris fouls our beaches and marshes and is a danger to all types of wildlife,” said Dr. Allyse Ferrara, professor of biological sciences. “It can be mistaken as food by wildlife and may lead to strangulation, starvation or impaired function. Seeing plastics and other debris on our beaches and helping to remove these items is a good place to start. The next step is figuring out how to reduce the amount of plastics and debris that reach our coastal areas.”

Included in the 15,814 items collected were 3,441 plastic bottles, 2,246 small plastic pieces and an 80-pound tarball.

“These results are both positive and negative,” Dr. Ferrara said. “The positive is that nearly a million people from across the globe can get together for this event and remove tens of millions of pounds of debris from our waterways. The negative is that only a fraction of existing marine debris is removed by this event.”

Data collected from the cleanup will be sent to Ocean Conservancy and included in their annual report, which will be released in March 2018.