As a recently retired master diver who has spent a large part of my life exploring the ocean depths, I have a great love for the magical world of marine animals that live beneath the waves. From diving with sharks to sea horses, from diving the depths of the waters surrounding Block Island to the deep waters of Micronesia, there is not too much I haven’t experienced and enjoyed. You might say that the underwater world is part of me and I am a strong believer in the protection of our world’s oceans and marine animals.
When I learned of the trash problem at Misquamicut State Beach I was of course concerned and investigated. What I found was that there were no trash receptacles anywhere to be found! What I found even more egregious was that parking lot attendants were handing out plastic bags to visitors at the beaches by the tens of thousands! People may not realize it, but plastic bags kill marine animals at an alarming rate. When they float in the water they look like jelly fish to marine animals and are eaten, mistaking it for food. Can you imagine a human being eating a plastic bag? The results would be catastrophic. The same holds true for marine animals.
No garbage receptacles and the handing out of plastic bags to each car that enters the beach is not just a Misquamicut issue. I have learned that this is the practice at every state beach in Rhode Island. It is time to end this environmentally disastrous policy at all state beaches in Rhode Island by placing garbage receptacles at every beach and ending the policy of handing out plastic bags. So the cost of going to the beach might increase a couple of bucks. So what. That is the price of protecting the world’s marine animals. Oh, and by the way, it will also make our beaches, which are some of the best in the world, even more beautiful.
The writer is a member of the Westerly Town Council.