Beach Clean-Up on September 15, 2018

International Coastal Clean-up
It has been estimated that eight million tons of plastic make its way into the ocean every year.  Eight million tons. Every year. This plastic breaks down into smaller pieces and is consumed by aquatic wildlife.  It breaks down even further into "microplastics" (pieces less than five millimeters in length) that end up in plankton, which are then eaten by fish, and those fish are eaten by us.  Last year, a study confirmed microplastics in human excrement in eight developed countries of the world. We as a species are struggling to deal with the pollution currently in the ocean. 
It is estimated that by 2050, there will be as much plastic in the ocean as there are fish. It's hard not to be overwhelmed.

One way we can all help out, however, is to keep our local beaches clean and free of debris that can be swept out into the ocean to become part of the problem.  Ocean Conservancy sponsors an event, started over 30 years ago, to collect and document trash from beaches all over the world on one designated day. Now known as the International Coastal Clean-up Day, volunteers from over 100 countries participate.  For over 15 years, VOBEC has been a proud participant of this annual initiative. This year, we expanded beyond Ocean Beach to our neighboring communities, including Point O’ Woods, Ocean Bay Park, Seaview, Robbins Rest, Summer Club and Corneille Estates.  The response was overwhelming. Every community we invited enthusiastically embraced the idea, and all (except Summer Club) provided volunteers and positive energy.  We are working with members of Summer Club to facilitate their participation next year.

Can you imagine if every beachgoer spent 10 minutes picking up trash off the beach? 

In about 2 hours on September 15th for the International Coastal Clean-up Day, 3653 pieces of trash were collected by 104 people.  The top items found were plastic pieces (869), cigarette butts (567), foam pieces (352), plastic bottle caps (278), food wrappers (172) and balloons (144).  The most unusual items were Juul pods, half-buried wire and prescription pill bottles

When looking at the percentages, approximately 48% of the garbage picked up was a plastic product. Add cigarette butts, food wrappers and balloons, that’s a total of 72% of the total garbage found on the beach.

If we could increase the awareness of not leaving plastic items, cigarette butts and balloons on the beach, we could make a big difference.  The clean-up was held off-season.  Can you estimate how much trash we could collect in 2 hours during the season?

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Special Thanks to All Our Supportors

This year, VOBEC enlisted the help of community representatives from each of the Communities from Point O'Woods to Robbins Rest.  There were a total of 104 volunteers:
13 from Point O'Woods
27  from Ocean Bay Park
10  from Seaview
28 from Ocean Beach
14 from Corneille Estates
12 from Robbins Rest
We were even helped out by a group of High School Students from Bay Shore who came over by ferry to help out at Corneille Estates.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to each and every one of you who graciously committed two hours on a beautiful Saturday morning to help maintain our precious beach.
We are looking forward to next year with the promise of even greater participation. 

Natural or Artificial?  Mystery Solved! 

While participating in the Beach Clean-up in Point O'Woods, several volunteers were observed hovering over a pile of seaweed for quite awhile.  Curiosity got the best of VOBEC coordinator Camille Guigliano and the POW organizer, Jim Kremer.  Jim finally went over to see what was so engaging. He brought back a piece of what appeared to be a white ribbon:  the edges were clean, it felt like a manufactured material, and did not break or tear easily.  Interestingly, there was a lot of it, but it was only found in the seaweed.  Was it the remnant ribbon of multiple balloons?  Was it organic or inorganic?  A number of us looked carefully and excitedly discussed it, trying to determine it's origin.  As it turned out, Jim is a marine biologist who has a microscope at home and was intent on solving the mystery.  He took a sample and was able to determine that, what appeared to be a plastic material, was actually eelgrass, Zostera marina, dried and bleached by exposure  
Plastics are often made to look like a plants; here was a plant that nature made to look like plastic!  
We learned that other people made the same observation at a number of the clean-up sites.  If you were one of those people who saw all the white shreds and wondered, please take satisfaction in knowing that it is a perfectly normal inhabitant and not at all harmful to our precious ocean.
For more information on beach clean up results please visit our website


The Village of Ocean Beach Environmental Commission (VOBEC) is a Mayoral-appointed advisory group dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the quality of the natural and man-made environment within the Village of Ocean Beach.


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Village of Ocean Beach Environmental Committee · PO Box 457 · Ocean Beach, NY 11770-0457 · USA

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