What To Do In La Union: Join A Beach Cleanup

Last Updated on October 13, 2022 by Tina

Most people come to La Union for the beach, the food, or to party. If you are looking for something fulfilling on your next visit to La Union, why not include beach cleanup on your itinerary? The La Union coastline is a vital nesting ground for sea turtles, and it is now the nesting season for sea turtles in La Union. CURMA (Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions), a marine turtle conservation program that protects endangered keystone species from poachers and other predators, organizes beach cleanups.

Last Saturday, my three-year-old nephew and I joined a beach cleanup on the beachfront of Alpas in Bacnotan, La Union. Before I share our experience last Saturday, let me share some information about sea turtles.

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Importance of Sea Turtles to Healthy Oceans

Just like me, you were probably wondering what’s the importance of sea turtles to oceans. I made some quick research before writing this post and found a good report from oceana.org entitled Why Healthy Oceans Need Sea Turtles: The Importance of Sea Turtles to Marine Ecosystems. You can check out the link for the full report (it is a very good read).

To summarize, sea turtles play vital roles in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans by:

Grazing on seagrass

Green sea turtles forage on seagrass just a few centimeters from the bottom of the blades. The upper portions of the blades float away rather than accumulating on the bottom resulting in a 15-fold decrease in the supply of nitrogen to seagrass roots. This impacts plant species, nutrient cycling, animal densities, and predator-prey relations.

Controlling sponge distribution

Sponges compete aggressively for space with corals. Hawksbill sea turtles forage on a variety of marine sponges, changing the species composition and distribution of sponges in coral reef ecosystems. They allow other species such as corals to colonize and grow when they remove sponges from reefs.

Feasting on jellyfish

Jellyfish prey on fish eggs and larvae. Leatherbacks, loggerheads, green sea turtles, and other sea turtle species consume jellyfish, controlling the population of jellyfish.

Transporting nutrients

Sea turtles provide a food source for fish and shrimp by carrying around barnacles and other similar organisms.

Supporting other marine life

Sea turtles are home to many marine organisms. Epibionts (small creatures that live on the surface of another living organism) attach themselves to sea turtle shells.

In the open ocean, fish and seabirds use sea turtles as a place to rest, a foraging ground, and even a safe haven from potential predators.

Beach Cleanup in Alpas La Union

Last week, one of my IG friends posted on her IG story about a beach cleanup organized by Alpas La Union and CURMA in preparation for the nesting season of sea turtles. I asked her if a 3-year-old kid can join and she said yes. Next, I asked my sister if I could take her son with me. She didn’t object, she just said she will let him if he woke up early that day. The beach cleanup starts at 7:00 AM and Alpas is in Bacnotan which is a 20-minute drive from our house. On the day of the cleanup, my sister woke him up at 6:00 AM, and at 6:35 AM we were already on our way to Alpas.

Beach cleanup volunteers

The cleanup started at 7:00 AM. Volunteers for the cleanup were locals and tourists, some with friends and families and there were solo travelers too.

We were given a short orientation before the cleanup activity. A volunteer from CURMA shared with us why we were doing the cleanup. Because turtle nesting season is fast approaching, we have to keep our beaches clean to provide a suitable nesting area for them. Plastic waste may trap or ward off nesting sea turtles. Also, plastic waste may end up in the sea and turtles may mistake it for jellyfish.

After the orientation, they gave us biodegradable trash bags from EcoNest Philippines. We were told to pick up only non-biodegradable wastes. The cleanup lasted one hour. After the cleanup, we had a group picture, then we were given refreshments from Alpas.

The biodegradable bags from EcoNest Philippines

Related Post: La Union Travel Guide: Things to Do, Where to Stay, Where to Eat and Tourist Spots to Visit in La Union

Trash Audit

After taking a break, a trash audit was done with the help of John Michael Andrada from Raniag ken Boses iti Agtutubo- Regional Chapter and DOERs. He took out all the trash collected in one of the trash bags and with the help of other participants, grouped the trash by type. A trash audit helps us understand the type of trash that is commonly found on our beaches.

In one bag alone, there were 15 recyclables (plastic bottles), 51 non-recyclables (plastic packaging), 20 other wastes (fabric pieces), 19 hygiene wastes (diapers), 3 styrofoams, 3 medical waste (face masks), and 1 high-density waste. 42 bags and 13 sacks of beach trash that were collected during the cleanup.
Interested to join in beach cleanups? Follow CURMA’s Facebook page to see announcements. You can also help our beaches trash free by being mindful and reducing our waste. Here are some things you can do to reduce waste:
  • Bring your own bag when going to the grocery or supermarket.
  • Reuse and repurpose as much as possible.
  • Skip the straw.
  • Dine-in or cook at home to avoid plastic packaging from take-outs.
  • Switch to plastic-free alternatives such as shampoo and conditioner bars.
  • Extend the life of our things by repairing and altering them.
I learned a lot from the cleanup activity and from the research I did while writing this post. Also, I’m glad to see my nephew having a great time outdoors. He helped me pick up trash, and he had fun doing it. I also explained to him why we were doing it. I am looking forward to joining other beach cleanups in the future.
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