Debris and litter on a South Texas Gulf beach : a long-term study




Amos, Anthony F.

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The count now includes birds, people, cars, dogs, helicopters, other things felt to be disturbing influences, measurement of beach widths, sea conditions, weather, as well as documentation of the continuing development of the beachfront represented by the construction of condominium complexes. One aspect of increased human usage of the beach is that more litter and debris seemed to be left on the beach.
I drive a 7-1 /2 mile stretch of Mustang Island Gulf beach every other day and have now completed over 1,300 of these trips. In addition to counting birds and people, etc., I "map" their positions along the shoreline. The beach curvature aids in locating the position of things of interest. The vehicle has a sort of Loran-c navigation system. Using a polynomial fitted to the curvature of the coastline and the vehicle's odometer reading, latitude and longitude are determined as a function of distance from an access road. The survey, started with a clipboard on the steering wheel, now uses a Hewlett-Packard 75C computer. A sensor connected to the truck's transmission inputs distance and time automatically. The computer's keyboard is reconfigured to enter species of birds and other survey items, including large litter and debris items. While the prime motivation for this study is actually not beach litter, it is this aspect of it which has gained some public interest. My slides highlight several aspects of this beach, including the litter problem.