Once in a while, I get outside near the water and take photographs of brown pelicans, great blue herons or whatever else I happen to see. There's rarely a shortage of wildlife to focus on. Wading birds aren't always close enough to get great photos of, and sometimes I have to zoom as much as possible to capture one in its habitat.
That's what I did in one photo of a great blue heron. When I had a chance to view the photo on a screen bigger than the one on the back of my camera, I was disheartened to see that the iconic coastal wading bird was hanging out amid a bunch of trash. Plastic bottles. Aluminum cans. Other plastic things.
It wasn't exactly something I wanted to share on Facebook to show my friends -- from far and wide -- the beautiful place I live in. In fact, I never used the photo because I would have had to crop too much to make the trash disappear.
Whether by accident or carelessness, trash shows up on our shores. A lot of it does. And, at least once a year, groups of dedicated Coast residents spend a morning removing TONS of it from the Mississippi Coast.
The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup is celebrating its 27th year this year, and you or your group can be part of it.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, hundreds of volunteers will check in with a site captain at one of about 60 sites in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. Then, they'll put on gloves, start filling trash bags and record what they find on data cards.
The Coastal Cleanup is a great way to show your love for the Coast. It has become an annual tradition for many individuals, families and groups.
The morning cleanup is always followed by a free lunch for volunteers. Lunch sites will be set up in each of the three coastal counties to thank everyone for their participation.
Last year, nearly 2,000 volunteers picked up 1,603 bags of trash, according to the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup website. Let's see if we can collect even more this year. (My future photographs thank you!)