Volunteers Remove More Than 3,000 Lbs. of Debris From Coral Bay Mangroves

Volunteer with debris pulled out of the mangroves at the 2021 St. John Great Mangrove Cleanup in Coral Bay. (Photo by Kitty Edwards.)

Over 20 community volunteers removed more than 3,000 pounds of debris from the shoreline during the 2021 St. John Great Mangrove Cleanup. Volunteers ages 22-77 cleaned 0.25 miles of mangrove debris from the shoreline in Coral Bay on Saturday, July 24.  Much of the debris found had lingered as a result of the hurricanes.

“This is the most debris removed by weight from community clean-ups of USVI mangroves, to-date,” said project lead Kristin Wilson Grimes, Ph.D., research assistant professor of watershed ecology at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Center for Marine and Environmental Studies.

“This was a tremendous effort by volunteers, despite the rain we experienced on Saturday. It really speaks to what a dedicated group can achieve together,” said Grimes.

By number, the top items removed were beverage bottles (1,074; plastic, glass and cans), plastic pieces (579) and construction materials (461). There many unusual finds, including a scuba tank, kayak, dog collar, one container of airsoft pellets, a grill, two patio chairs, a car battery, a full can of paint, one toilet seat, a wood sailboat boom, nine tires and 23 “lost soles” (flip-flops and other shoes).

The 2021 St. John Great Mangrove Cleanup was sponsored by UVI, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the Coral Bay Community Council, the Coral Bay Yacht Club, the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, Virgin Islands EPSCoR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Marine Debris Program.

The event builds on the success of previous Great Mangrove Cleanups on St. Thomas and St. Croix over the past three years. Those events engaged more than 375 volunteers and removed more than 7,300 pounds of marine debris from territorial shorelines. With the 2021 St. John Great Mangrove Cleanup, community volunteers have now removed 5.4 tons of debris from mangrove shorelines across the territory since 2018.