Thursday, November 2, 2017

Volunteers Saving Marine Life with Feet on the Beach and Hands in the Sand

Volunteers Saving Marine Life with Feet on the Beach and Hands in the Sand

Over 3000 volunteers gathered today from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM at over 60 New Jersey beaches and waterways to clean harmful debris at Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 32nd Annual Fall Beach Sweeps. Enthusiastic volunteers spent the day cleaning, collecting and calculating debris removed at sites from Essex to Cape May Counties. The data produced from this event is publicized in an annual report that provides a deeper exploration into the pollution issues throughout the Jersey Shore.
Beach Sweeps help reduce water pollution on land before debris enter waterways, becoming potentially harmful and even lethal to aquatic life. The data from the Beach Sweeps turns a one-day event into a legacy of information to improve public awareness, change wasteful habits, enforce litter laws and improve policies to reduce sources of marine debris.

“People are responsible for generating marine debris and it is our responsibility to eliminate it.  While we can all do more to reduce our use of disposables and never litter, we can also help by removing trash from beaches and shorelines.  People like clean beaches, but for marine life it’s a matter of life and death.  Marine life suffers by entanglement and ingestion of the marine debris due to people’s carelessness.   Beach Sweep Captains and volunteers are sea champions and every piece of trash removed, is potentially a life saved,”  Cindy Zipf, Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action.

Data from today’s Beach Sweeps will be combined with data collected from the 2017 Spring Beach Sweeps that was held on April 22nd. The Beach Sweeps annual report identifies pollution problems and educates citizens on the quantities and types of marine debris. Legislators will receive the cumulative data and use it to implement stricter litter bans and enforce laws to protect the marine environment.

The 2016 Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps Annual Report can be downloaded here at

Preliminary results from Sandy Hook including the top five items:
·         number one – 6,994 plastic pieces
·         number two – 5,702 caps/lids
·         number three – 3,012 straws/stirrers
·         number four – 2,926 food/candy wrappers
·         number five – 1,438 cigarette filters

Throughout Beach Sweeps, volunteers are encouraged to note any out-of-the-ordinary finds. COA labels these finds as “The Roster of the Ridiculous”. Some of the items catalogued today included: Tinker Bell toy, knee brace, vampire teeth, nail clippers, googly eyes, ear plugs, phone charger, gift bow, dog bone, diaper, bloody bandage and a vape mouth piece. There were an unusually high number of syringes and blood vials found on Sandy Hook.

"It was a picture perfect day for the Sweeps! The energy of the crowd was amazing and everybody was super enthusiastic about heading out to the beaches," Katie Costello, Beach Sweeps Coordinator, High School Student, Marine Academy of Science and Technology.

COA Beach Captains are there to the direct to the hub of volunteers and individual participates at each site. These Captains lead the cleanup effort and are an indispensable part to which we owe the overall success of the program.

“Beach Sweeps, large or small, I felt always made a difference and I approached each one every year with equal enthusiasm. The sweeps were like a calendar to me, they brought about a change of seasons in the Fall and a new beginning to the seasons in the Spring. Your representatives always had a utopian desire to succeed in their clean up endeavors. Selfishly I have been drawn to the sea even as a child growing up in Ocean City New Jersey so the opportunity to gaze upon the sea and clean its beaches wasn’t a task at all,” Franz S. Adler, Margate Beach Sweep Captain of 29 Years.

With gratitude, Clean Ocean Action thanks: AVEDA, Bank of America, Comcast and ShopRite for their 2017 Beach Sweeps Statewide Sponsorships. The Spring Beach Sweeps are made possible by support from many generous sponsors.

“Through partnerships with organizations like Clean Ocean Action, we’re helping improve our environment,” said Bob Doherty, New Jersey Market President, Bank of America. “In addition to the company’s financial support over the years, our employees are always excited to volunteer at Beach Sweeps to help clean up our beaches and waterways and protect wildlife,” Etta Rudolf, Sr. Vice President, NJ Market Manager, Bank of America.

Waves of thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers, from the small to the tall, who participated in today’s Beach Sweeps! Together we can all make a difference for a cleaner ocean to be enjoyed by generations to come simply by picking up litter whenever and wherever we see it. For example, a piece of debris found on a central or northern New Jersey street can travel downstream and eventually end-up in the ocean.

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