Authorities identify culprits who trashed beautiful Biscayne Bay island

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There are still no arrests from a story Local 10 News exclusively reported on Tuesday about boaters caught on camera illegally dumping trash on a small island inside Biscayne National Park.

Local and federal authorities know who the people in the video are, and there is hope that they will soon be held responsible.

They are apparently very familiar to the Illegal Dumping Unit.

“Through preliminary investigations, the IDU believes some of the perpetrators to be repeat offenders,” said a Miami-Dade Police Department spokesperson.

The offenders were easy to trace thanks to iPhone video taken by boater Nicholas Rey.

Rey not only caught them in the act, but knew to snap their boat and jet ski registration numbers when he and his family saw them dumping out all their trash.

“They did not care. They started tossing all these bags right in the middle of the island, just tossing bag after bag,” Rey said.

They left quite a disgusting mess behind, right in the middle of the island.

“They even went to their boat, grabbed more trash from their boat, took it and dumped it in,” Rey said.

It happened last Sunday on a tiny unchartered islet between Soldier Key and Boca Chita Key on some of the most beautiful and pristine waters of southern Biscayne Bay.

“It’s a beautiful little island -- it’s shallow on both ends,” said Rey.

Rey and his family come to the area every weekend and they’ve seen the trash pile get bigger and bigger.

“There was already trash there, so I was already angry, seeing the trash that was already on this island, so then when I saw them do it, I was like wow, these must be the people that destroyed this beautiful oasis in the middle of the ocean,” he said.

And they are by no means alone. For almost two years, since Don’t Trash Our Treasure was launched, Local 10 News has been reporting on the legions of irresponsible South Florida boaters and personal watercraft riders who routinely enjoy the bay and party on the islands, only to leave all their garbage behind.

“There’s lots of people coming out here, but the island is so small and it can’t sustain the amount of trash that people are bringing,” said Dara Schoenwald, co-founder of Volunteer Clean Up.

It is a huge problem and it’s getting worse.

“This is not only disrespectful to the residents, but it’s also disrespectful to our wildlife, and I am so tired of picking up your trash,” said MJ Algarra, founder of Clean This Beach Up.

Trash cans fill up fast on these islands and not all of the islands have them. Those that do are only serviced on average once a week, leaving piles and piles of garbage to accumulate.

It makes no difference to some boaters, who leave trash bags on the ground hoping the trash fairy will just magically whisk them away.

“In another two hours, the tide is going to go up another foot, 2 feet and all that trash is going to be underwater,” said Dave Doebler, co-founder of Volunteer Clean Up.

No wonder our bay is dying, when many of those who enjoy it don’t seem to treat it with the proper respect.

“What we really should be doing is focusing on a pack it out strategy, where people bring all this stuff out on their boats, pack it back in and dispose of it when you’re on land,” said Doebler.

Rey wants to see the people who trashed the island held accountable.

“They should have to pick up, not only their trash, but some of the other trash that’s sitting there and guess what? I’ll help them. I’ll help them pick it up,” he said.

Rey also has a message for all of us.

“Don’t be shameless,” he said. “We live in South Florida. It’s beautiful over here. Let’s keep it that way.”

About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.