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HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami/AP) — More than seven tons of debris have been removed from sea turtle nesting beaches in Biscayne National Park thanks to the efforts of Alternative Break program volunteers.

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In a statement released Thursday, the park said nearly 200 volunteers from 16 universities and local organizations have helped clear the beaches to improve nesting chances for the endangered species over the past four months.

Park fishery and wildlife biologist Dr. Vanessa McDonough says the sea turtles may abandon attempts at nesting when debris fills the beaches.

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McDonough also says debris on the beaches poses a danger to sea turtle hatchlings because it can prevent them from making their way to the ocean.

The park hosts volunteers of the Alternative Break program, which is a winter or spring break option for students seeking to perform volunteer work.

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