College Class Collects Debris At Connecticut Beaches

A University of Hartford class is making waves after finding hundreds of pieces of trash at three Connecticut beaches in just hours of collecting.

"We found several hundreds of different pieces, this is a big clump," said Dr. Katherine Owens while holding a volleyball sized sphere of tangled fishing lines.

The debris found in the study came from Bluff Point State Park, Hammonasset Beach, and Meigs Point.

"We found hundreds of plastic solo cups," Dr. Owens said.

With a $49,000 grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Program, the class called “Marine Debris and Pollution” set out to collect debris from three beaches.

35 students spent eight hours walking the shoreline reaching for golf balls, netting, and other garbage.

"I think it's ridiculous. Everything I take in I take out," Donna Carroll said of her trips to the beach.

In all, 1,600 items were found on the debris collection and 76-percent of the trash is plastic.

"If you do fish at the beach for example, you want to know what the fish are eating is actually healthy, so if it does fuse with the tissue, like we have seen in recent research, online articles showed us that, you don't want to be eating that fish obviously," Gabrielle Dabrowski, a University of Hartford student, said.

Students said simple measures can be taken to help keep beaches clean.

"Instead of using zip-lock bags or plastic bags get a Pyrex container or regular reusable container," Dabrowski said.

Instructors said they're working on creating a course-framework to share with other schools interested in running the same study.

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