Curry Hammock State Park Ranger/Service Specialist Miranda Murphy tows a kayak filled with recovered debris at a previous cleanup organized by Coastlove and the Florida Keys chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Coastlove and Surfrider are joining forces once again to organize the December 4 COAST Is Clear shoreline and mangrove cleanup at Smathers Beach. (Photo by Maritza Thibos)

Volunteers sought for December 4 COAST IS Clear shoreline and mangrove cleanup at Smathers Beach

Data shows that every year, nearly 11 million tons of plastic waste makes its way into the ocean, threatening everything from zooplankton and fish to sea turtles, marine mammals, and seabirds. Scientists say that swift change must be made to clean up our act and clear out the debris by 2050 or plastic will surpass the fish in our seas. On Saturday, December 4 from 8:00am to 10:00am, two Florida Keys organizations are collaborating to offer a shoreline and mangrove cleanup at Smathers Beach and nearby salt ponds to help do just that.

Surfrider Foundation of the Florida Keys and Coastlove were founded to help initiate change on a local level; They work to preserve our coastal assets by organizing coastal cleanups, advocate for non-toxic sunscreen use to protect coral health, collect baseline water quality data in the nearshore environment with special paddleboard fin sensors, host coastal restoration events and activities that bolster dune systems, maritime hammocks and mangrove forests throughout the Keys, and create broader local awareness of single-use plastics, our vulnerable mangrove ecology, and the connection between the sea and those who depend on it to survive.

The COAST Is Clear Beach Cleanup is part of the annual COAST Is Clear Music & Arts Festival coproduced by COAST Projects and Key West Art & Historical Society, featuring a daylong concert of world-class musical talent to include Grammy-nominated Black Pumas, food vendors, and a cash bar held at Fort East Martello Parade Grounds adjacent to the cleanup, followed by the Artisan Market on Sunday, December 5, from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Key West Wildlife Center parking lot at the Indigenous Park. The Saturday morning, family-friendly coastal cleanup will give participants an opportunity to get hands-on, take steps to protect our Florida Keys marine habitat, and do their part to help be sure the COAST Is Clear.

Come together as a community to celebrate and protect our coastal ecology and habitat by taking action for trash-free shores. Mandatory check-in is from 8:00am to 8:45am at the end of Smathers closest to the fort; closed-toe shoes, sun protection, insect repellent, and reusable water bottles are recommended. Reusable cleanup bags, gloves, hand sanitizer, extra water, City of Key West swag, and Lazy Dog kayaks will be available.  Preregistration is required for this family-friendly event; search for “Coast Is Clear Cleanup” on

Tickets to the COAST Is Clear Music & Arts Festival can be purchased online at or at the gate. Events are rain or shine; festival admission is free for ages 12 and under, special discounts for teachers, military personnel, and first responders. Covid-19 safety protocols will be observed, including a cap on ticket sales. Chairs and blankets are welcome. Limited parking is available; bicycling encouraged. www.coastisclearfest.comYour Museums.  Your Community.  It Takes an Island

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