Saturday, Oct. 24, close to 3,000 volunteers hit the beaches to participate in Clean Ocean Action’s 30th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps at over 65 sites from Essex County to Cape May County, including locations in Long Branch, Monmouth Beach, Sea Bright, Sandy Hook, and West Long Branch.
Volunteers removed and catalogued each piece of debris, helping to document ongoing pollution issues. Robust crowds were reported up and down the coast. Many volunteers came as teams from local businesses, corporate and grassroots organizations, school and church groups, and families, all with personal ties to the Shore and some with decades of Sweeps participation.
“The marine life this past summer was spectacular — whales, belugas, dolphins, great whites, and more — all cruised by the coast. They are extremely vulnerable to marine debris through ingestion and entanglement. Through the Beach Sweeps, volunteers are giving back to the ocean and they are also the reason why the Beach Sweeps has been a success for the past 30 years. For residents and visitors alike, the Beach Sweeps create a real sense of community pride in the Shore’s overall marine health,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.
“We urge all those who volunteer to continue the conversation in their households and their community working to kick our single-use plastic habit,” Zipf said.
The data recorded will be combined with data collected in the spring at the April Beach Sweeps, then analyzed and presented in an annual report produced by Clean Ocean Action.
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 2014 Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps Annual Report can be downloaded at cleanoceanaction.org.
In honor of the Sweeps’ 30th year, Clean Ocean Action will be hosting the Debris Free Sea Conference at Brookdale Community College on November 11. This event will be a one-day symposium, highlighting the success of the program, the ocean advocates involved, and the data that has resulted.
At this conference, a team of Bloomberg employees and data scientists will present their analysis of COA’s 20+ years of Beach Sweeps data. This will provide a snap-shot of the marine debris problem in New Jersey.
Kaylie Haberstroh, Marine Academy of Science and Technology Beach Sweep Student Coordinator said, “What we are doing today is part of a much larger picture overall. New Jersey’s shoreline makes up only a small fraction of shorelines all over the world. Keeping our oceans clean needs to be a global effort, and I am so honored to be helping Clean Ocean Action with this event,”
On Sandy Hook alone, Beach Sweep volunteers picked up 5,846 plastic pieces, 5,324 food/candy wrappers, 4,785 caps/lids, 2,206 straws/stirrers, 1,879 cigarette filters, and 1,047 plastic beverage /soda bottles.
In addition to logging standard debris counts for various plastics, glass and lumber items, Sweeps participants also logged the strange objects that make their way to the beach from various nonpoint sources. Some of the ridiculous items catalogued today included: paint brush, nylon netting, fence, pacifier, floss, hair roller, and a zip tie.