More than 100 do-gooders got their hands dirty cleaning up the notoriously trashed Plumb Beach on April 28.
Participants also learned about the beach’s natural inhabitants, such as the horseshoe crab, at the cleanup event hosted by Kingsborough Community College biology professor Christina Colon.
Students had no idea such a thriving ecosystem lived right outside their Manhattan Beach classroom, said nursing student Sosha Kahn.
“I guess I wasn’t as aware of so many of these environmental issues. I didn’t even know there was a habitat right here in Brooklyn for a lot of marine life,” said Kahn, who lives in Midwood. “Our school is very close to the beach, so it’s interesting that right around the corner from where we study, so much is going on.”
Kahn and other students hauled off bags filled with cigarettes butts, plastic bottles, and even some larger trash, including a pillow found floating in the water. It was sad to see how some people treat the natural space, said Kahn.
“I was appalled at the kind of clean up that was actually needed, cigarette butts and plastic bottles, people just leave stuff all over the place,” she said. “We learned what we could do to protect it in the future and why it’s so important.”
But underneath the layer of filth, Plumb Beach’s horseshoe crabs are still busy preparing for their upcoming mating season, said Lisa Jean Moore, who is a professor of medical sociology at Purchase College and is writing a book about her research at Plumb Beach.
Moore taught everyone about the anatomy and benefits of horseshoe crabs — they can be used for bait, fertilizer, and their blue blood is actually used for medical testing in humans — the students were not shy in asking questions or holding the creatures, she said.
“They have a lot of different interactions with humans that most humans don’t realize. They are harmless. They are useful to humans in a bunch of different ways,” said Moore, who lives in Crown Heights. “[The students] were amazing, I loved them, they were super engaged. Many of them held the crab or took a picture with the crab. It was a fantastic event.”