BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 99% of all seabird species will have ingested plastic by 2050.
Worldwide, 52% of all sea turtles have ingested some form of plastic and as of 2016, 46 different marine mammal species have ingested it.
Now, a new tool is hitting the Brevard County beaches to clean up micro-plastic.
"It's picking up these smaller items that are often missed by manual cleanups," said Savanna Christy of Keep Florida Beautiful.
The nonprofit Keep Brevard Beautiful is the first in the nation to use this new tool.
KBB Executive Director Bryan Bobbitt has always enjoyed the outdoors — fishing, camping, hunting. It gave him a sense of purpose, taking care of nature.
He volunteered for KBB in high school. Today he's the nonprofit's executive director.
And this day he's back at it, cleaning up the beach.
"Cigarette butts are always the number one thing," Bobbitt explained to Spectrum News 13. "Straws, dirty diapers, aluminum foil from grills, cups, beer bottle caps, unfortunately, we find beer bottles, broken glass."
Last month the all-volunteer group fanned out on the sand and collected 37,000 pounds of trash. It takes a lot of manpower to clean the beaches. KBB has over 3,000 active volunteers.
"They come out here rain or shine. They clean up the beach, the river, the shorelines," Bobbitt said.
But now they are getting some powerful help. Meet that new beachcomber we just told you about.
BeBot is the first eco-friendly beach robot designed to clean the coast. The 900-pound rover is remote-controlled and is 100% electric and solar-powered.
The robot sifts the surface of the sand to collect debris and litter as small as one centimeter — trash often missed by manual cleanup efforts. Much of it is micro-plastics, the tiny mess left behind after plastic breaks down over time.
Part two of BeBot's mission — is education.
"That is exactly what we are wanting," Bobbitt said. "We want people to come up, ask questions about it and bring awareness. And hopefully get people to put stuff on the beach that will break down."
The new robot was donated by Surfing's Evolution and Preservation Foundation.