Miami Beach is rated #20 for best beaches to visit in the US but in order to keep tourist and locals coming to the beaches, many non-profit organizations go out everyday and clean all the trash left behind from the day before. Approximately,  11 metric tons of waste is collected from the beaches and the ocean every year which is about 24 billion pounds worth of trash. The trash pollution issue has an effect on water quality, the wildlife that inhabits it, and the overall quality at the beach itself. This is why many organizations plan giant clean up days with hundreds of volunteers to go out and pick up every piece of plastic they see, every fishing line that is broken in the water, and go out to schools and try to educate the younger generation on how trash pollution is harmful to the ecosystem and wildlife that inhabit it.


Table of Contents

  • Effects on water quality 
  • Effects on the wildlife
  • Results of cleanups 


Effects on Water Quality

On January 30, 2024, the Florida Health Department tested the ocean's water quality and deemed it was unsafe to swim in due to the high levels of bacteria and not meeting the recreational water quality criteria. This bacteria is known as Enderococcus, when coming into contact with or ingesting it can cause a number of illnesses including but not limited to UTI's, bacteremia, IE, internal abdominal infections and wound infections. 

According to Ocean Conservancy, 60% to 80% of the debris in the ocean is caused by dumping, washed or blown away from the shore of the ocean. Due to all the trash in the ocean there are hundreds of microplastics floating around while people are swimming. This debris can add unwanted chemicals to the water making it dangerous for animals and humans to ingest the water and can lead to infections, GI issues, and in more serious cases death can even occur. Living things can not ingest plastics without an issue arising, their bodies can't handle it. 


Effects on Wildlife

We've all heard the saying "Save the Turtles" and to use metal straws but why does the straw you drink out of matter or a store cutting out plastic bags and using paper bags instead? It's because when animals are hungry they eat. A turtles eye sight isn't the best so when they see a plastic bag floating in front of them they may think it's a jellyfish and will eat it. since they don't chew their food, they will swallow it not realizing what they just ate. A shark will search for a prey and if they spot a dark object in the water they may think it's a seal and in all reality they will eat debris from a tire. Turtles will get straws lodged in their nasil cavity and won't be able to get them out themselves. 

Often, after animals ingest non food related items, it can and will cause suffocation, starvation, and drowning. Many of the rescue centers in Florida deal with animals coming in with plastic related injuries and further try to educate people in living a minimal waste free lifestyle.

These are the plastic items that kill marine animals most often

Marine Debris and Sperm Whales ...


Results in Clean ups

According to Miami-Dade County, there was an annual clean up day where almost 3000 volunteers collected 22,000 pounds worth of trash from 58 different beaches in Miami.