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Summer’s over — Help clean up the Jersey Shore’s beaches

Beach Sweeps volunteers at Bradley Beach with a styrofoam boulder
Beach Sweeps volunteers at Bradley Beach with a styrofoam boulder (Clean Ocean Action)

Clean Ocean Action’s 32nd Annual Fall Beach Sweeps to rid the beaches of litter and collect valuable data happens Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Executive Director Cindy Zipf says the beach sweeps are important because they give people a chance to give back to the ocean after a great summer season.

The sweep also benefits marine life. This litter and marine debris that is found and picked up is very harmful to marine life. It can injure them, entangle them and in many cases lead to death, says Zipf.

The sweep allows experts to collect data. Zipf says twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall — Clean Ocean Action gets a data snapshot as to what is washing up on our beaches so that information can be used as a legacy of evidence that can be used to enforce laws and come up with new initiatives.

Zipf says the 2017 data will be released in March 2018, just in time to gear up for the spring beach cleanup scheduled for April 21.

In 2016, 218,000 items were collected on Jersey beaches. Over the years, more than 5.9 million pieces of trash have been collected. And she believes that by the end of 2017, more than 6 million items will be collected.

There are many common items found on the beaches during the sweeps. Those items have been deemed “The Dirty Dozen:” plastic pieces, plastic caps and lids, plastic food and candy wrappers and bags, cigarette filters, foam pieces, straws and stirrers.

She says marine life often mistake these items for food. Their digestive systems get impacted with large amounts of these materials that have contaminants.

Along with the so-called “Dirty Dozen,” there’s also the “The Roster of the Ridiculous.”

Zipf says they have found “treasures like $10 bills to a laundry basket, a table leg, shower curtains, a bike chain, a hula hoop.” They’ve also found footballs, volleyballs, golf balls, fake fingernails and fingernail polish.

Everything but the kitchen sink. Well, Zipf says one year they actually did find a kitchen sink.

There are 60 locations for the beach sweeps this year from Perth Amboy to Cape May. Zipf says it’s a great day to spend a couple of hours in the morning helping to give the beach and ocean a good cleaning before the winter season approaches.

To find a location near your or pick your favorite beach to clean, go to www.cleanoceanaction.org to register.

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