How do you combine serene views, fresh air, exercise, camaraderie and a good deed into one event? Easy peasy. Become a member of Clean Coast of Savannah and volunteer to help during one of its monthly beach and marsh cleanups along the Georgia Coast.
My first outing with the nonprofit organization was to Wassaw Island, located off the coast of Georgia. Designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1969, the 10,053-acre island has kept its primitive character with beaches, dunes, maritime forest and salt marshes. You can only access the island by boat.
Our trash finds included a tent rain tarp, mangled crab traps, an assortment of plastic bottles, half a buoy, random scraps of plastic and a length of marine-grade rope. In all, our efforts removed more than 400 pounds of trash.
Our adventures also included a guessing game about a dead animal that had washed up on shore a long time before we arrived. We were convinced it was an upside down turtle. We poked at a couple flippers, marveled at a string of vertebrae and peeked under the leathery hide only to make faces at the maggots eating away at remaining bits of flesh. Alas, Caretta Research Project* volunteers later told us it had been a dolphin.
* The Caretta Research Project is a hands-on research, conservation and education project that has been protecting loggerhead sea turtles on Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge since 1973.