SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Jerry Cegelske


May 16, 2007
Wednesday PM

Two weeks ago I was at the dentist's office and was reading an older issue of National Geographic. The article I was reading was about cleaning up the islands northwest of the Hawaiian Islands, Midway and Laysan Islands were discussed I believe. They commented that they were cleaning up 500 tons of marine debris on Laysan Island alone.

Carol Baines letter in Sitnews on May 15, 2007 reinforces the message presented by National Geographic. The picture (in her referenced article) of the turtle with the plastic ring around it's middle, forcing it's body into an hourglass shape, shows what happens when we don't take care of our trash. How frequently do you hear of humpbacked whales getting caught in lines. I don't think many of us will be sailing out to collect the trash in the subtropical North Pacific gyre, but we can do something locally that will help us all. We have a place locally where plastic trash and other trash has been dumped by the wind and waves and help is needed to remove it.

Last fall we collected a ghost crab pot that had been in the Narrows for years. The floats and lines were still attached to the pot, creating a hazard to marine mammals. If you don't think plastic affects or could effect you, think of this. You're operating your boat on a nice sunny day but you don't see the plastic bag in the water that plugs up your boat engine's cooling water intake! It doesn't make for a nice day. Impossible for it to happen you say? It already did to me going from Grindall Island to Knudson Cove. Why can't it happen to you this year, or next?

The residents of Ketchikan will have a chance to do their part as the Gravina Island Clean Up will start at 9:00 am on Saturday, May 19th with volunteers meeting at the Harbormaster's Office.Community participation is needed for the successful completion of the Clean Up. This is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center Community-based Restoration Program. Citizen participation can be used for the in kind donations by the Borough to offset the money the Borough would otherwise have to expend. This will allow the Borough to use the NOAA Grant funds to have materials and debris removed which volunteers cannot do, such as recovery and removal of sunken boats, removal of fuel from vessel fuel tanks and other problem areas.

The boats you see on Gravina may look nice to you or an artist but think of this. Each one of them is their own little hazardous waste dump! Think of all the materials which are in them when they get dumped on the beach. They have lead acid batteries, motor fuels and oils, antifreeze, paints, cleaning fluids, hydraulic steering system fluids, hydraulic fluids, electronics, refrigeration systems, the list goes on. Last year I found an unopened gallon of oil on the beach. When I picked it up it broke but I was able to save most of it from contaminating the water.

It is not possible for us to make a difference in all areas of the world, but we can make a big difference in how Ketchikan looks, and what we do to lessen the threat of hazardous waste deposited in the ocean that all of us are so dependent on. When you catch that first king of the season, do you want to wonder what waste it has absorbed and you are about to eat?

Cleaning up someone else's trash may not sound like fun, but once you start doing it, you find that it can be very rewarding and it is fun! You can make a difference.
Please come and join us, May 19, at 9:00 am, at the Harbormaster's office for transportation to Gravina. Please bring gloves, boots, necessities and any snacks or food you would like. A hamburger and hot dog lunch will be provided.

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 16, 2007 - Published May 16, 2007

About: Jerry Cegelske is the Gravina Island Clean Up Project Coordinator


Related Viewpoint:

letter Debris In the Sea (and elsewhere) By Carol Baines - Ketchikan, AK



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


Send A Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor at

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska