CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to a new study conducted by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Coastal Bend beaches have 10 times more beach trash than those in other Gulf states.
The study was conducted over the past two years and is said to be the most extensive study of beach pollution. The findings are not positive by any means.
UTMSI researchers said 93-percent of all beach trash is plastic, and some of the trash that has piled up on beaches has come from as far away as South America and the Atlantic Ocean.
UTMSI's Sally Palmer said international trash is a big culprit.
"The high rates of accumulation seem to be brought in by currents as opposed to people leaving trash on the beach," Palmer said. "People are certainly leaving trash on the beach, but looking at different sites in the Coastal Bend where there's high visitation versus low visitation, a lot of the trash is coming in by currents."
Palmer said people need to be dilligent about picking up their own trash. In fact, she suggests trying to pick up trash in a 25-foot radius around you any time you're leaving the beach. The authors of the study also suggested that a reduction in plastic use and an increased presence of recycling programs would also benefit the region.
One winter Texan visiting from Ontario said the study's findings are disappointing.
"It's pretty discouraging to come down here and see all the pollution and all the garbage on the beach. We don't expect that up there in Canada," tourist John Harvey said. "I think the beaches are a bit cleaner than what I expected to see down here. Especially along the jetty down here. It's full of garbage."
The study showed that trash accumulation on the beaches peaked in the spring with the highest accumulation rates in March when the wind changes direction. The authors of the study said targeting the spring months with beach cleanups would be a more efficient use of volunteers.