On Thursday, the mayor and several city leaders came together and explained that the beads thrown during the celebration are having negative impacts on marine wildlife.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – It’s been nearly two years since the Tampa Bay had the annual Gasparilla celebration, and now that it’s back, the focus for Tampa City leaders is the environment.

On Thursday, the mayor and several city leaders came together and explained that the beads thrown during the celebration are having negative impacts on marine wildlife.

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“There are no beads allowed to be thrown out on the water. We need to keep all of our beads and all of that festive part of Gasparilla on land,” said Jane Castor, Tampa Mayor.

After being cancelled for almost two years, the Gasparilla celebration is finally coming back to the Tampa Bay Area, but it comes with a warning.

Demetri Sedita, Cofounder of Green Gasparilla says “We know that it’s impossible to remove everything that is already there, so that’s why i think it’s very important that we sort of turn off the tap on this issue and the bead-free bay initiative is a really important part of preventing any more beads from entering the channel.”

Back in 2019, the Florida Aquarium removed 120 pounds of beads from the Tampa Bay after Gasparilla, and now Melissa Duke from the Florida Aquarium is trying to keep that from happening again.

“Once it starts to break down, chemicals get leaked out into the waterways and really harm wildlife. There’s other implications of plastic reaching the waterways, like entanglement or ingestion,” said Duke.

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Sedita says the number of beads in the water is unimaginable.

“When I started to collect footage of the bottom of the channel with the underwater drone that I purchased, that I really started to realize the extent of this issue, and just how many beads are just sitting out here,” said Sedita.

Duke says the beads actually have a direct impact on humans when fish ingest them, and a change needs to be made.

“As it continues along the path of the food-chain, it finally reaches to our dinner plates,” said Duke.

The Florida Aquarium and Solid Waste and Environmental Department both have recycling programs available for the beads.

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Captain Pete Lackman, with Ye Mystic Krewe Of Gasparilla says “To make sure that every invasion that we have is a clean invasion and there’s no damage to the environment.”