Letters to the Editor

Beaches: Don't go home with marine life

I opened my newspaper to find the 2002 Whidbey Island Almanac included as a supplement. These are always kind of fun to look through, but on page 33 I found something that was rather upsetting. It was a picture of a little girl holding a large sea star. The caption read: “Giant starfish, jellyfish, seaweed, crabs and shells are just a small part of what you can put in your beach bucket.” I would like to encourage everyone to leave their beach buckets at home and leave the organisms on the beach.

As WSU Beach Watcher, I have learned to have an appreciation for our Island County beach habitats. I have also learned how fragile they are. They are endangered not only by pollution, but also by being loved to death by people. With the thousands of visitors that come to our beaches each year, the collection of organisms has a major impact on these environmental treasures.

Beach Watchers encourage what we call “beach etiquette.” This includes leaving the organisms on the beach where they belong. If you want to learn more about beach etiquette, talk to a Beach Watcher or contact the organization through WSU Cooperative Extension in Coupeville.

There’s an amazing diversity on our beaches. It’s not just barnacles and mussels out there. Practicing beach etiquette will help preserve this diversity so that in 50 or 100 years, our great-grandchildren will have an opportunity to see it too.

I have to tell you that when I do go to the beach, I do carry a bucket. If you get out to the beach much you’ve probably seen me. I’m the lady with the big white bucket who is often down on her hands and knees peering up under big rocks. Why do I carry a bucket? I take it to carry my camera. I like to take photos of the interesting organisms I see there. The other thing I take my bucket for is to carry snack, lots and lots of snack! I’m not really against buckets, just collecting buckets.

I hope a great many people visit and learn about our beaches during this year’s low tide days. I also hope they’ll keep in mind that the beaches are fragile habitats that we must take care of. Please help to protect these wonderfully rich habitats.

Mary Jo Adams

Oak Harbor

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