Written on November 29, 2016

International Coastal Cleanup Day 2016 – Event Recap

San Diego, U.S –  September 17th 2016


 YES, we did it again! We absolutely LOVE this time of the year, when people in many countries around the world gather up to show their love for our oceans and beaches by cleaning up their local river and ocean shores.


The collective effort formally known as “International Coastal Cleanup Day” was first organized by The Ocean Conservancy in 1986. Since then, the celebration has brought together hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world and removed thousands of pounds of thrash and debris from the ocean floor. We are proud to say that this continues to be one of the largest global cleanup efforts and we are happy to be a part of it.

For the last four years Oceanforce is been able to mobilize local volunteers in San Diego, U.S as part of our Sweetwater Marsh Restoration and Preservation Project in the city of Chula Vista. The community has totally embraced the date and taken the restoration of our Marsh very seriously.


On Saturday September 17th what started as a gloomy end of Summer morning quickly turned into another beautifully sun glazed California Day. After an introductory and safety talk Captain Alfonso Lopez made a short presentation about micro plastics and “expressed our need to pay more attention to those small bits and pieces of plastic littering the shore.” It is also in the small plastic particles which are hard for the eye to see, where the real threat lays. As hard as it is to hear it, it is that which you don’t see, what will kill you.


With more than 50 volunteers representing Castle Park High School, Muller Elementary School, our local Cub and Girl Scouts, as well as community members and friends, we parted ourselves in four groups before carefully heading out into the Marsh scouting for anything inorganic. Knowing that the Sweetwater Marsh has come a long way from where we started five years ago, and after the introductory briefing, the volunteers knew what to look for. Some big pieces of trash and derelict items were bound to be found and brought back; but there was a great need to look closer and remove all the small plastics. Micro plastics that is.


In the almost four hours of work that we all put into our Marsh cleanup we collected more than one thousand pounds of trash. Much of it single use plastics, marine debris, shopping carts and anything in between. Several repurposed glass bottles were filled with micro plastics. Some of these become real samples we use when talking to anyone about the global plastic issue. By noon, our volunteers had picked up enough trash to make three short bus runs to dispose of it. That resulted in more than 2 (3 cubic yards) trash bins being completely full of trash that had just been removed from this National Wildlife Refuge. Lets point out that much of these plastics are in an already state of degradation and/or are too dirty to be processed and recycled in our city, which inhabitable makes most of what could be recycled become trash.


Zach, Emily, Robert and Rita were some of our Team Captains who kept track of all items collected during the cleanup and were also keeping in touch via radio with our base camp. Our volunteers maintained open radio communication with the Site Captains who guided them through some of their weird finds, and answered questions that came up during their work. We strive to have this type of coordination as it makes our work more effective and safer for everyone. We try as much as we can to use buckets to pick up our trash and not buy plastics bags for that purpose. We do have a stack of old plastic bags that we continue to use only when we run out of buckets for all of the volunteers.


This time around it was special for us as we kicked off our Mobile Science Lab as a part of our cleanup! With this being our first Oceanforce Mobile Lab stop we had 3 (borrowed) microscopes where students could take a closer look at some of the micro plastics as they started to arrive through out the morning. With professional adult supervision the students were able to look at different kinds of photo degrading plastics, fivers, etc which is almost impossible for the naked human eye alone. As seen through a microscope, these plastics freshly picked up from the Marsh can quickly open anyone’s eyes to the issue of plastics in the oceans as well as in our own bodies. Our mobile lab was the perfect scenario for our friend ND Michelle Sexton to take the lead and give a talk and presentation about types of plastics, recycling denominations, micro plastics in the food chain, and their direct effect in our health.




International Coastal Cleanup Day 2016 was a total blast and everyone involved had a great time. A big THANKS to our friends over at Cheba Hut who totally rocked the day with their naturally delicious sandwiches and cereal snacks. Some of our members also brought coffee, fruit, cereal bars and pastries to share. Another big THANKS goes to Seven Mile Casino for allowing us to use their trash bins.


Our friends over at I Love a Clean San Diego have been spearheading the efforts in Southern California to help organizations like ours join in and be a part of this global movement for several years now. Thanks to their leadership, Oceanforce Foundation has been able to adhere to the celebration and help extend its outreach and mission much further and into some communities in great need of this type of work. Such is the case of Oceanforce Foundation bringing International Coastal Cleanup Day in previous years to cities like, Acapulco, Bonfil and Puerto Escondido in Mexico, as well as Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires in Argentina.


Lets not forget that over the years we have also been lucky enough to receive some kind support from companies like Patagonia, Dixieline, Home Depot, Seven Mile Casino and MGBW to help restore the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

To all of you, THANKS!

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