While most people come to the Jersey Shore to enjoy the ocean during the summer months, it is still a fun place to be during the winter.

New Jersey beaches are a great place to take a walk in the crisp, winter air. Bundle up and enjoy the solitude and tranquility. Listen to the gentle rush of the waves in peace.

Out in the ocean during the winter, there is also a lot of activity like whales migrating.

“We have one of the most endangered species on the planet that swims on by the Jersey Shore. That’s the North Atlantic Right Whale. Some seals come to the Jersey Shore in the wintertime. That’s their time to come and play hit the beaches for sun themselves and it’s fun to see them,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.

So, it’s imperative, even in the winter, to keep our oceans clean and healthy.

2019 Seal at the Jersey Shore. Photo Credit: Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Brigantine
2019 Seal at the Jersey Shore. Photo Credit: Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Brigantine

What can people do to keep oceans clean in New Jersey?

Zipf said to keep doing what you’ve been doing all year long like reducing plastic use that can pollute the waters and harm marine life and take advantage of reusable bags.

During this gift-giving season, be mindful of ribbons, glitter, and sparkly decorations which are tiny bits of microplastic. Think about that when putting up outdoor decorations. Those microplastics can drop off, wind up in the streets and roadways, and eventually wash out into waterways, Zipf said.

While taking a nice walk on the beach this winter, bring a garbage bag along with you to pick up any trash along the way. She said every little bit helps. If each person does a little bit, a lot can be accomplished in keeping our oceans and beaches clean.

Zipf also said there has been a great deal of activity being proposed offshore in the form of offshore wind.

“In the northeast alone, there are proposed 3,500 turbines as tall as the Chrysler Building and 10,000 miles of cables being proposed. That adds up to 2.2 million acres which is twice the size of Grand Canyon National Park,” Zipf said.

While there is a place for some offshore wind to provide some renewable resources, she said the onslaught of projects which would literally pave the ocean needs to be questioned and Clean Ocean Action is demanding that a pilot project be done.

“So, I think during this quiet time, if people want to look into the issue of offshore wind, this is a huge industrialization that’s being proposed. A lot of people are not aware of what’s being proposed,” she said.

COA is also looking for volunteers for its Annual Spring Beach Sweeps which is slated for April 1, 2023. Anyone interested can go to the website, get more information and sign up.

Twice a year, in the fall and spring, COA hits a ton of beaches up and down the Jersey coast picking up tons of garbage, mostly plastics, from the beaches.

2020 Beach Sweeps
Photo courtesy of Clean Ocean Action

What is the importance of a clean ocean?

Each individual has a personal relationship with the ocean, Zipf said. The ocean provides us with so many gifts such as seafood dinners, swimming, splashing around, surfing, boating, and even the oxygen we breathe.

“The ocean plays a huge part in producing all of that good fresh air that we depend on. The ocean literally is a source of life for all of us and it’s so important that we keep it at the forefront,” Zipf said.

The ocean provides us with all of these wonderful gifts for free. So, Zipf said it’s only fair to keep her healthy, clean, and safe.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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