(WSVN) - You name it, and it has probably been found dumped in Biscayne Bay, and whether it be refrigerators, barrels of drugs or old crab traps, the debris is causing serious damage. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
It’s a beautiful day out on Biscayne Bay, but John Ricisak and his team won’t be enjoying a relaxing day on the water.
They’re out here to do some heavy lifting.
John Ricisak, Miami-Dade County Environmental Resources Management: “You don’t have to go to CrossFit!”
These biologists with Miami-Dade County aren’t using their bright minds, but their brute strength to remove big pieces of debris.
Kevin Ozebek: “What are you looking for?”
John Ricisak: “Today, we’re targeting mostly stone crab traps.”
Stone crab season ended two months ago, but as the team spots buoys, they’re finding many are connected to derelict stone crab traps.
If left out here, their concrete bottoms would keep scraping away coral.
Biologist Felix Alvarez calls them the bay’s silent killer.
Felix Alvarez, Miami-Dade County biologist: “The animals swimming around them aren’t aware they are seeking refuge inside a plastic box that they will not be able to get out of.”
Stone crabs found trapped alive are set free, but for many species, getting inside one of these traps is a death sentence.
John Ricisak: “It’s not at all uncommon to find small sharks in them. You can pretty much be assured that until that trap is physically removed from the water, it’s going to be there conceivably until the end of time.”
The focus today may be traps, but as soon as the team spots a plastic pipe, Felix jumps in the water to grab it.
If it’s a big piece of debris in the bay, it’s the job of these biologists to remove it, and each time they head out, they find literally boatloads of trash.
Marquez Lopez, Miami-Dade County biologist: “Now, things are opening up. There are a lot more people on the water. There’s a lot more impacts. There are a lot more people throwing garbage in the water, unfortunately.”
They’ve hauled refrigerators out of mangroves and scooped TVs out of the water.
John Ricisak: “Everything from bales of drugs to tires to drums of gasoline, bean bag chairs, balloons, fishing net, fishing line, anything and everything.
They’ve found lounge chairs at the bottom of the bay, toilets washed ashore and all while picking up the small debris they find along the way.
Felix Alvarez: “We know the season, not so much by the temperature, but by the types of balloons that we find, whether it be for Mother’s Day or red balloons for Valentine’s season.”
It is grueling work. The team allowed me to haul in one derelict trap.
Kevin Ozebek: “Ughhh, this is the hard part, isn’t it?”
It sure is, since the trap weighs around 50 pounds. To help lighten their load and save creatures like sea turtles and sawfish they’ve seen trapped in debris, the biologists have this simple message:
Marquez Lopez: “If you’re in the water, you should be responsible and just clean up after yourself.”
John Ricisak: “If you put something into the bay, it needs to come out.”
With so many big pieces of trash out there in the bay, county commissioners have earmarked an additional half a million dollars to remove some of it.
Right now, John is figuring out how to haul out the most trash possible with that cash.
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