Volunteers can still sign up to take part in the annual Coastal Cleanup set for next weekend.
Coordinated by Keep Lee County Beautiful and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the local effort will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 21 in several locations throughout the county. To volunteer, people can register online in advance or show up day of at one of the five check-in sites.
The Cape Coral site is at Horton Park and the adjoining boat ramp, at 2600 S.E. 26th Place.
"They're doing a service to protect the marine environment," Terry Burton, a site coordinator and member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 9-10, said of why people volunteer.
"To protect the marine environment, such as the fish, the mammals," she said.
In 2012, approximately 830 people volunteered countrywide for the cleanup, with 21 in the Cape.
"The number one item locally that is found is cigarette litter," Burton said.
Fast food litter, which includes styrofoam cups, comes in at second.
Other debris collected ranges from fishing line and plastic six-pack rings, to cans and bags.
"A lot of these plastic bags are deadly," she said.
According to Keep Lee County Beautiful, plastic bags are mistaken for jellyfish and eaten by sea turtles, and fishing tackle is eaten by birds and becomes an entangling death trap for many animals.
Organized nationally by The Ocean Conservancy, the annual effort strives to remove unsightly and environmentally harmful debris from Florida's coastlines and raise awareness about the litter problem.
Keep Lee County Beautiful will provide volunteers with water, gloves and garbage bags.
Event T-shirts will be available while supplies last.
"We'll be there handing out the items that people need," Burton said.
Volunteers will also be given data cards to record the types of debris collected and amounts. These are sent to The Ocean Conservancy as part of its research to prevent illegal and improper waste disposal.
People are needed to clean up along the shoreline by foot, or in the water by boat or kayak.
Horton Park, Four Mile Cove and Jaycee Park are some of the Cape hot spots.
"Anyone who has a boat - along their canal, if they want to go along the end of their canal,"she said, adding that they can pick up things like coconuts, garbage or trash along and at the end of the canal.
It is recommended that volunteers dress appropriately and consider a heat and sunscreen.
"Dress comfortable because they're going to be outdoors in the environment, in the sun," Burton said.
To sign up in advance, visit online at: www.klcb.org/sp_coastalcleanup.htm.
For more information about the annual Coastal Cleanup, call Terry Burton at (239) 450-2734 or the other Cape site coordinator, Rob Raybuck, at (239) 220-4254.