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Florida Beachgoers Left Behind 13,000 Pounds of Trash Last Week on This Beach

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Florida Beachgoers Left Behind 13,000 Pounds of Trash Last Week on This Beach
Cocoa Beach saw a huge spike in trash as cleanup crews collected more than 13,000 pounds strewn across the sand over the weekend. Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When beaches in Florida reopened last week, people flocked to them to absorb the sun, sand and water. Unfortunately, many forgot to take their trash with them when they left.


While pollution and emissions have precipitously dropped worldwide, Cocoa Beach saw a huge spike in garbage as cleanup crews collected more than 13,000 pounds strewn across the sand over the weekend, as The Hill reported.

The beaches, which reopened on April 21, will remain open, but authorities will start to crack down on litter by increasing the fines and enforcement, according to Florida Today. Littering will now come with a $250 fine.

"As restrictions are becoming more relaxed during this pandemic, the City of Cocoa Beach is beginning to see an influx of day-trippers to our beaches, along with piles of unlawfully discarded trash in their wake," Cocoa Beach Police Department wrote in a notice, according to Florida Today. "This will not be tolerated."

In a Facebook post, the Cocoa Beach Police Department stated that they will be "focusing on litter violations in the days and weeks ahead in an effort to educate the public and mitigate this repulsive and disrespectful behavior."

This weekend's litter collection surpassed the previous weekend's total of roughly 12,000 pounds. Two weekends ago, cleanup crews collected 297 bags of trash, which weigh roughly 40 pounds per bag. Bryan Bobbitt, executive director of Keep Brevard Beautiful, told CNN that the true number would be higher since they did not collect many larger items like tent poles and beach chairs that were left behind.

This weekend's total was 305 bags of trash, according to Bobbitt. Volunteers and observers have noticed that the discarded items are often single-use plastics.

"People will come from out of town and leave an umbrella, a tent or chairs because it's a onetime use," said Bobbitt to CNN. "Chip bags, plastic straw wrappers and anything can get blown into the dunes."

Cocoa Beach Police Chief Scott Rosenfeld said in a statement that the local community works "very hard to be stewards of environmental sustainability," as The Hill reported.

"If I need to relocate critical resources during our peak season to combat litterers, we are no longer asking our visitors to comply with our litter laws, we expect it, and there will be consequences for offenders," he added.

The litter poses a threat to Florida's marine life and to the beach environment. Keep Brevard Beautiful says the goal of their cleanup efforts is to keep the environment safe for humans and for animals.

"When we see something that can be a choking hazard to marine life, we make it a point to get that stuff as well," Bobbitt said to CNN. "If we don't pick it up, it gets blown into the water. We've all seen the photo of the straw stuck in a sea turtle's nose or a 6-pack ring around a bird's neck."

This past weekend, the police only issued one citation for littering. Noting some of the challenges in issuing a litter violation, Cocoa Beach Detective Sgt. Thomas Cooper told CNN, "You have to say they're the person who legally left that trash. The officers are stuck."

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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