The below article is a guest post from the College of Charleston Waterkeeper Club. Charleston Waterkeeper is incredibly proud of the many students involved with getting this club off the ground; we are eager to engage this passionate group of water warriors. The College of Charleston Waterkeeper Club will allow students an opportunity to become more aware of issues impacting Charleston’s waterways; it will also provide an outlet whereby the campus community can help play an active role in protecting Charleston’s waterways.
At the start of the 2013 spring semester, six College of Charleston students came together to establish the very first internationally recognized Waterkeeper Club on a college campus. As the club began to promote itself, eager students signed up to get involved with the club’s future activities.
On Saturday, September 21, 2013, six months after the College of Charleston Waterkeeper Club was established, the club hosted its first outing–a beach cleanup on Morris Island. The cleanup, sponsored by Teva as part of their “A pair for a foot” campaign, provided the club an opportunity to work with Charleston Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance, exposing nearly 30 students to the mission of the Waterkeeper movement.
Members from the College of Charleston Waterkeeper Club, bound for Morris Island, set sail at 9 AM aboard the Charleston Explorer. In honor of the last day of summer and International Coastal Cleanup Day, it only felt appropriate to leave Morris Island the way we found it in May–clean and free of trash.
Leaving from the Maritime Center, we made our way across Charleston Harbor, passing beautiful views of the Ravenel Bridge and Fort Sumter, and eventually arrived to Morris Island around 10 AM. This was the first time many club members had been out to the island. We arrived to Cummings Point in hopes of returning with trash and a feeling of accomplishment. We split into groups of two, collected our data cards, our gloves, two bags (one for trash and one for recycling), and walked the north end of the island. Along with the expected bottle caps, countless pieces of styrofoam and tiny remnants of plastics, we also encountered a remarkable amount of light bulbs, a massive metal signpost, cleaning products, and a handful of tar balls.
We covered nearly a mile’s worth of linear beach along the north end of Morris Island; after consolidating all trash and recyclables, we were left with four full bags of trash, one full bag of recyclables, and a number of awkwardly shaped items that would not fit into the bags.
We were honored to see the swells of volunteers show up to the docks to help us in our efforts. (Most college students rarely see the sun prior to 8 AM, so the attendance we witnessed was truly inspiring.) With the help of our volunteers, we completed a super successful beach sweep! It was a fantastic way to kick off the newly established College of Charleston Waterkeeper Club.
Our ongoing efforts are continually dedicated to our late friend Barker West, who we miss dearly. The day was no exception–we wore Barker’s initials over our hearts during the cleanup. His spirit and attitude will never be forgotten, and his efforts to help protect Charleston’s waterways will forever be the cornerstone of our club’s ambitions.
We’d like to extend a huge amount of gratitude to Teva for sponsoring the cleanup. Also, a heartfelt thank you to Maritime Center, Charleston Explorer, Starbucks, SC DNR, Sea Grant Consortium, Keep Charleston Beautiful, Cul2vate, and the team at Charleston Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance for helping to make the day a success.
We’re looking forward to a successful school year!
– College of Charleston Waterkeeper Club