Guess What You’ll Find at Coastal Cleanup Day
Sept. 6, 2016 — You’d be surprised what you might find at an HTB cleanup. Come join us Sept. 17 for Coastal Cleanup Day, our biggest volunteer event of the year.
First-time cleanup volunteers sometimes arrive with the expectation that they will spend a few hours removing large items of trash from the sand – used tires, abandoned fishing nets, and whatnot.
But as any cleanup veteran can tell you, the bulk of our work is picking up and removing small items like Styrofoam shards, plastic bottle caps, or cigarette butts. It’s this dinky detritus of our daily lives that most plagues beaches. It can be tedious at times, but removing tiny pieces of trash most helps marine animals, which often mistakenly ingest harmful bits of plastic and other debris.
To give some perspective, Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database reveals that our cleanup volunteers have collected more than 450,000 cigarette butts at L.A. County beaches since 1999. If you laid those butts end to end on the ground, they’d easily surpass the height of Mount Everest!
But it’s not all bits and pieces at our cleanups. Every year at Coastal Cleanup Day – our biggest volunteer event of the year – someone discovers something truly remarkable. Here we look back at some of our favorite finds:
In 2009, police were called in when divers at our Redondo Beach cleanup site found what they believed to be a human skull on the seafloor. Authorities quickly cordoned off the beach and brought forensic teams to examine the weathered skull, which was wrapped in plastic. Creepy! Unfortunately – or fortunately – for our amateur “CSI” wannabes, the skull actually turned out to be a very lifelike anatomical model that would be used in a hospital or medical school setting.
Forget those crazy dudes with the metal detectors. If you want to find the real big-money action, come to one of our cleanups. Last year, the mayor of Agoura Hills found a wallet in Medea Creek that contained a crisp $100 bill. And in 2010, a group of students at a beach cleanup in Santa Monica found one half of a torn $100 bill. Despite frantic digging, they were unable to find the other half. The good news is that banks will replace your damaged bill if it’s more than 50% of original length and the serial numbers are intact.
Eveline Bravo-Ayala, our former Beach Program Manager, helped organize hundreds of cleanups during her long tenure here. Little did she know that she’d actually discover her wife at a Coastal Day cleanup. In 2007, Evelyn arranged a series of cleanups in the northeast San Fernando Valley with Olga Ayala, a staffer in Tony Cardenas’ City Council office. The two wrestled for control of the events and often butted heads. But from that rocky start, a tentative friendship blossomed into romance and marriage in 2013.
We’ve added a special wrinkle this year — volunteers get to search for “buried treasure” as they pick up trash. Lucky treasure hunters will find “golden sea stars” (don’t worry, they’re fake) hidden in the sand and underbrush at five of our coastal and inland sites. Winners can redeem the sea stars for valuable gift certificates from REI, Patagonia, and Amazon.
On Saturday, 9/17, join us at one of 50 locations throughout L.A. County for this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day!