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Fort Lauderdale Beach - unsung heroes

Updated on August 16, 2015
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Fort Lauderdale beach - unsung heroes keeping it in great shape

For years I'd go to the beach and never give a thought to the people who work so hard to clean and care for our sands.

This all changed when we started to walk on Fort Lauderdale beach every day at dawn. Each day, before sunrise, a team of men and women are out hard at work preparing the sands for us to enjoy. I never realised.

I imagine this happens all over the world. I also imagine that you'd like to join me in thanking them.

Dawn is so beautiful by the ocean. When we walk there, it's very peaceful. There are sometimes a few people fishing making the most of the early part of the day. People are there taking their daily exercise too - that's why we started our own walks, for the exercise.

Most visitors are still asleep in their hotels, enjoying the fact that they don't have to get up to go to work. And while they sleep, and a few of us walk, jog or fish, the cleanup team is quietly and unobtrusively hard at work.By the time visitors get to the enjoy the sands, it's beautiful and pristine.

It wouldn't be the case without them.

Before the sun rises

Fort Lauderdale beach workers at dawn
Fort Lauderdale beach workers at dawn

When we started our beach walks, we soon noticed this. At dawn, before the sun has risen, a team of men and women scout the area on foot. Each has a bucket to hold the garbage they pick up. Every day, they clean and pick up old pizza boxes, discarded plastic bottles and much more. They walk along the shoreline and also up and down the entire area, picking up items and trash left behind from the day before.

They collect discarded and broken toys, old t-shirts, a worrying number of beverage cans, abandoned coolers, smashed sunglasses, sandwich wrappers and - yuk - dirty diapers ... all those things that didn't find their way into the trash cans. It's such a shame that people can't be more responsible towards areas of beauty.

The ocean

Cleaning Fort Lauderdale beach at sunrise
Cleaning Fort Lauderdale beach at sunrise

It's not just visitors who deposit unwanted items right on the surf line. The job of this guy and his colleagues it to clean up the shoreline of the detritus that the ocean has washed our way. Sometimes, this can be a huge amount of seaweed. When this happens, machines like the one above collect it and take it to a composting plant.There are also strange and miscellaneous items that have washed ashore, often from the ships and boats out at sea.

We have seen empty paint cans, a lot of unidentified plastic material and sometimes even roses and fruit; presumably discarded from party boats. The driver is courteous and greets us with a wave of his hand.

Palm trees

Palm trees on Fort Lauderdale Beach
Palm trees on Fort Lauderdale Beach

I can promise you that a coconut falling on your head would be sure to ruin your day, if not your entire vacation.

There are many palm trees on Fort Lauderdale beach and they help to give our area its wonderful sub-tropical atmosphere.But it's easy to forget that these trees need regular attention. Dangerous coconuts are removed, eliminating that particular hazard. Dead palm fronds are cut away from the trees - even a palm leaf landing on you can give you a nasty shock, believe me.

The City of Fort Lauderdale workers make everything safe and sound in the early hours, getting everything ready for us all to enjoy a fun day on the sands.

Caring for wildlife

Caring for Fort Lauderdale beach wildlife
Caring for Fort Lauderdale beach wildlife

The turtle patrols are also out before the sun is up. Every year, sea turtles arrive at Fort Lauderdale beach to lay their eggs. At night, they crawl up from the ocean, dig a hole in the sand and lay their eggs. This done, they carefully cover them with sand before heading back into the ocean. They just have to trust that their eggs will be OK.

Of course, on a busy area such as Fort Lauderdale's, the nests could easily be disturbed. This is why, at certain times of year, the turtle patrol teams are out as early as possible looking for new nests. When they find a nest, they construct a barrier around it with tape and add a notice explaining why that area is roped off. They also check existing nests and make sure that the tape barriers remain in place and haven't been damaged by visitors.

The first time I saw a sea turtle laying eggs

I was driving home along the A1A, the road that runs parallel to the shoreline. It was about ten o'clock in the evening. It's a slow road to drive along and I noticed that there was a small crowd of people on the sand. I parked (parking was a lot easier on the A1A in those days) and noticed that the people were completely silent. I hadn't been in Fort Lauderdale for long - I'd only recently arrived from England - so the sight of a huge turtle laying her eggs was astonishing.

As she prepared to leave her eggs to the mercy of the world I saw that her eyes were streaming with tears. "She's crying" I whispered.One of the bystanders soon put me right. "When turtles are on land" he explained "their eyes water to help keep them lubricated."Call me sentimental, but to this day I'm not convinced....

I'll Follow the Moon (Mom's Choice Award Honoree and Chocolate Lily Award Winner)
I'll Follow the Moon (Mom's Choice Award Honoree and Chocolate Lily Award Winner)

Our oldest granddaughter in England is fascinated by the fact that we live somewhere that baby turtles hatch. We bought this for her before she could read and she loved listening to it as a bedtime story. Now she reads it to her baby sister who loves it just as much. The book has over a hundred five-star reviews and I know exactly why. It's beautiful and it teaches children so much.

 

When Mother Nature strikes

Superstorm Sandy - Fort Lauderdale Beach
Superstorm Sandy - Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sometimes Mother Nature herself throws us a punch. That's what happened in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit. The beach was full of debris. Palm trees were uprooted. The road flooded. The images above shows only a fraction of the debris and the chaos that was created. And remember that we in Fort Lauderdale regularly have these issues to deal with.But in no time, the diligent workers are out there tidying up and making the area fun again.

Superstorm Sandy

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Caring for our beaches

Looking after our beautiful sands - anywhere in the world - is simply a matter of common sense

  • So many times, both of us have picked up soda and beer cans that are torn and broken. This torn metal would be horrible to accidentally tread on, especially as these are often rusty. Many may have been thrown overboard by people on boats. If you see cans, please pick them up and dispose of them properly.
  • Please, please don't take any glass items with you. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up broken bottles and drinking glasses that could cause horrible injuries. Even if you intend to take them home, it's safer just not to take them in the first place.
  • Many beaches have designated areas for barbecues. Most local authorities forbid them in other areas so be on the right side of the law
  • No adult would deliberately interfere with a sea turtle nest but it's a great idea to keep a close eye on young children to make sure that they don't accidentally damage the nests.
  • I often read sad stories of seabirds who are found dead after eating debris - small pieces of plastic, plastic strings, deflated balloons and so on. At one time, it would have never occurred to me that a simple deflated balloon could be harmful. Chewing gum and cigarette ends cause problems too.
  • If you're taking beverages to the beach - and this is a good idea to keep yourself hydrated - plastic bottles are better than glass but it's easy to accidentally leave them behind. Try to avoid one-time use disposable bottles, if possible.
  • An indelicate subject - sorry. Dogs are only allowed on certain parts of Fort Lauderdale beach and almost every owner I've seen has been very diligent as regards clean-up. But when a dog's gotta go .... I really don't like the thought of one of my little granddaughters sitting and playing on sand where a dog has recently had a pee - or worse. The last thing I want to do is suggest that dogs can't enjoy our beaches but maybe they can be persuaded to use the ocean as a bathroom and not the sand?

Stay safe!

Lifeguard on Fort Lauderdale beach
Lifeguard on Fort Lauderdale beach

The City of Fort Lauderdale places lifeguards at regular intervals on the beach. I know that I've often been guilty of saying 'rules are there to be broken' but the best way to stay safe by the seashore is to follow the simple rules that are posted. They really are there to keep you safe and make sure that we can all enjoy a lovely day at the beach.Let's keep the lifeguards' lives peaceful!

A few of the items we've found in the sand

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Thank you, Fort Lauderdale workers

We have seen some things on the beach that I wouldn't even mention here but that's because we get there before the sun rises and before the hard working crews arrive.For just about everyone, Fort Lauderdale's beaches are clean and beautiful, thanks to the dedicated dawn patrol!

© 2013 Jackie Jackson

Thoughts?

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    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Nancy Hardin: I agree, Nancy. It's such a shame when you see the rubbish on the beach when there are trash cans everywhere. The city has even provided recycling bins too. Yes, I think that the idea that the turtle was lubricating her eyes was nonsense - I prefer my theory:)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I really appreciate the workers who do this, and I was especially glad to hear about the turtle eggs being protected. I feel the way you did, I'm not convinced that Mama turtle wasn't crying! Good to see these workers appreciated. I just wish they weren't necessary...in other words, why can't people be more responsible for their trash? But since they aren't...it's good to know there are people who will take up the slack.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @greenmind: Thank you! I think they deserved a little praise for the work they do :)

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 4 years ago from USA

      I really like this lens -- so good to know that Ft Lauderdale beaches have heroes! This is a cool idea for a lens, really nicely done.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @katiecolette: Thank you. It's the same here. There are lots of trash cans, both regular and recycling, but there are people who just leave things behind. I especially hate seeing glass on the beach. It's forbidden but that doesn't stop people.

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 4 years ago

      We live 10 minutes away from the beach, so we are frequent beach goers. To me, it's really upsetting when people don't clean up after themselves after a beach outing. Our local beaches have trash cans everywhere, yet there are quite a few people who could care less about the plastic bottles, cans, and other trash they leave at the beach. Nice job on this lens!

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @MusicMadness LM: I know what you mean!

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 4 years ago

      Beautiful sunset pictures. I had to chuckle when I saw them using the scissor lift to pull coconuts out of the trees before they fell on someone. Makes perfect sense, but still funny.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @EllieHarper: Fort Lauderdale beach at dawn is wonderfully peaceful. When you do make it to Fort Lauderdale, give it a try.

    • EllieHarper profile image

      EllieHarper 4 years ago

      Your pictures are absolutely stunning! I'm finding a little peace just from looking at them. I was just in Florida last month but unfortunately didn't make it as far as Ft Lauderdale. Hopefully next year.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Vikk Simmons: Thank you! The turtle patrol people are very dedicated indeed. I believe that they are mostly volunteers too.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I hope some of these beach workers get to see this special page, a tribute to their care.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      You've got some terrific photographs here and I love the "turtle patrol." Interesting slant on the goings on at the beach and one we seldom think about. Thanks!

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lesliesinclair: Oh, what a good idea. I hope so too because so many of us truly value their hard work day in, day out.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lbrummer: True, it's not only on the beaches, that's for sure.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: There would be worse things underfoot now if it wasn't for them :)

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 4 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      A nice reminder that there are many "unsung heroes" that do mundane tasks every day to keep our surroundings presentable. Nice article.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love Ft. Lauderdale. We lived there many years ago. We used to get tar on the bottoms of our feet! Thank goodness for people who clean up the beach!

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @poldepc lm: Thank you!

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 4 years ago

      what a beautiful lens...really "imminent"...thx for sharing

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @JoanieMRuppel54: I hope they brought back good memories for you !

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 4 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Went to Ft Lauderdale as a senior in high school for a swim team trip to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Your photos of the palm trees and sunset are exactly how I remember it.

    • caketech profile image

      caketech 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these unsung heroes with us! They do a very important job.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Titia: Thank you Titia. Unless things have changed, I know the ice cream parlour you mean. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed Fort Lauderdale beach!

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Ahhh Ford Lauderdale Beach, that brings back sweet memories from 12 years ago when I spent a whole week there. It was my 'hide out' for a week during my 3-week meeting the poets trip I took. Poets I've met through the internet and with whom I've spent a long weekend in New Port Richie. I wrote a lens about that event. I went sea fishing couple of times. I loged at the Best Western Inn and walked about 20 minutes along the beach every other day to an 'internet' ice cream salon, where in return for buying a delicious ice cream I could use there internet pc for as long as I needed to keep in touch with home base. I really enjoyed your story and Hurray to those who keep the beaches clean and Hurray for you on our raffle ticket.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: I did! You're right. There are so many people out there before sunrise making the beach and the A1A beautiful for us. If I won the lottery I'd take them all out for a fabulous dinner on Las Olas :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I agree, I am out here walking pre dawn also. You missed Bobby pressure cleaning the sidewalk! Bob