TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Many Gasparillagoers will try to collect as many beads as possible. Unfortunately, many of those beads end up in the trash or the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay, which is problematic for many reasons.
Fish and marine life can mistake the beads for food, and if they eat too many, they can have a false sense of being full and eventually die from a lack of nutrition.
If they’re not being eaten by marine life, the plastic beads do not break down but instead break up into smaller and smaller microplastics. A microplastic is a tiny, microscopic piece of plastic that release toxic chemicals harmful to us and the environment.
“Some studies are showing now that these chemicals and microplastics can bioaccumulate in the food web as increase up the food chain, from a shrimp to a bait fish to a grouper the concentration of that toxin is increasing,” said Sheila Scolaro, a scientist with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
She also said marine life like dolphins, sea turtles and manatees, can get tangled in the beads that hold together. The propellers on the motors of your boat could get wrapped up in them as well.
This year, there are bead collection sites throughout Tampa that are accepting beads to be collected, cleaned and and recycled for next year. They will start accepting beads January 31s and continue to accept them all the way through May.
The four collection sites include the Copeland Park Community Center at 11001 N. 15th Street, the Kate Jackson Community Center at 821 S. Rome Avenue, the Lorretta Ingraham Recreation Complex at 1611 N. Hubert Avenue, and the fourth site is the MacDonald Training Center at 5420 W. Cypress Street.