Friday, December 2, 2016

Reducing Trash Along the Delaware

It was a Beach Sweep with a difference – this time, it was on the banks of the main stem of the Delaware River in historic Taylor Wildlife Preserve (TWP) (, which is almost three hundred years old.  The mission was the same – to clean up the accumulated washed-up river debris and collect the data!  

The cleanup, on Oct 29, 2016, was a COA pilot project funded by the Environmental Endowment of NJ in collaboration with Dr. Jay Kelly from Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC), NJ, who had identified the Friends of the Taylor Wildlife Preserve (FTWP) for the clean-up.  Fortunately, the NJ Natural Lands Trust also supported the event, providing a dumpster for debris. The event followed a previous assessment by interns with RVCC to identify areas of debris “hot spots” along the river. The focus was a small 1-acre area.  Over 50 enthusiastic and dedicated environmental science students from RVCC along with other citizen volunteers from TWP worked hard for over 3 hours.  Cindy Zipf, Executive Director, and Swarna Muthukrishnan, Staff Scientist, from COA were also present for the cleanup and witnessed firsthand the deleterious extreme accumulation of debris, and documented the event.

Over 5000 items were collected, and included an unusual concentration of hair combs and balls (tennis, racket and paddle), along with a large number of tires!  The combs and balls provide potential clues to sources. Some debris was also very dated, with items including date stamps from the 1990’s and one item from 1977.  

Watch COA social media for the release of a video and data from the site.  Waves of thanks to all involved, especially Kristen Greaney and Stephanie Pavona, RVCC/COA Marine Debris Interns.  The next step is to move to other sites in the Delaware River area for cleaning.  If you are interested, please contact Mae Henry at the COA office.

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