There have been mannequin legs and a refrigerator, a carpet vacuum and a bottle of Holy Water, toilet seats, a $20 bill and a purple wig.
Those are just a handful of the more unusual items that have been found during the annual Beach Sweeps, where volunteers hit the beaches and the waterways to remove thousands of pieces of debris from the sand, the riverfronts and even underwater at sites throughout New Jersey.
Last year, volunteers collected more than 475,000 separate pieces of debris, according to Clean Ocean Action’s annual beach sweeps report.
On Saturday, October 22, more than 3,000 volunteers are expected to join in the 26th annual fall event at nearly 70 locations throughout the state. Tavia Danch, education coordinator for Clean Ocean Action, said more than 2,000 people are among the groups of 10 or more that have registered already for the sweeps, but many more individuals join the efforts as well.
“It depends on the weather,” Danch said, but every person who helps matters.
Volunteers receive data cards and are asked to record each piece of debris they collect, from plastic bottle caps to pieces of lumber to those crazy items – which have even included a kitchen sink. Because this sweep occurs after the municipalities stop raking the sand for the tourist season, the debris that’s collected primarily consists of items washed up as a result of the various tropical storms.
“It’s more a reflection of marine debris,” Danch said, and our consumer habits, noting that much of the debris reflects single-use disposables, such as plastic water bottles and caps. Danch noted it may be especially interesting this year to see what was left in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
The first sweeps were held at Sandy Hook in 1985 with 75 volunteers. That effort has since expanded statewide, with volunteers picking up debris at as many as 70 sites from Aberdeen in Monmouth County to the tip of Cape May, and inland as well.
Locally, sweeps, which run from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., are scheduled for the following locations:
- Aberdeen - Fisherman's Parking Lot at Cliffwood Beach
- Allenhurst - Euclid Ave. Site sponsored by Paul V. Fernicola & Associates, LLC.
- Asbury Park - (2 Sites) 1. Convention Hall at the Boardwalk - Site sponsored by Monmouth County Association of Realtors 2. North Beach Site sponsored by Surfrider Foundation, Jersey Shore Chapter meet at the dirt lot near Asbury Towers.
- Atlantic Highlands - Harbor parking lot on First Ave.
- Avon - Pavilion at Norwood & Ocean Aves.
- Belmar - (2 Sites) 1. Belmar Fishing Club, First Ave. Beach; Site Sponsored by Brook 35 & West 2. 16th Avenue Beach Site Sponsored by Prudential, Jamie Patton and Rob Nigro
- Bradley Beach - Gazebo at 5th & Ocean Aves.
- Brielle- Fisk Avenue and the Public Access Point at the Drawbridge
- Deal - Philips Ave. Beach
- Highlands- (2 sites) 1. Popamore Point on Shore Drive 2. Snug Harbor Ave. Beach (behind Community Center)
- Keansburg - Laurel & Beachway Aves.
- Keyport - Cedar Street (First Street at waterfront) Site Sponsored by NuStar Energy
- Long Branch - Pier Village, meet at public access at Melrose Terrace and Ocean Ave. Site Sponsored by The Grove and New Jersey American Water.
- Manasquan-Main Street beach
- Middletown Twp (4 sites) - 1. Leonardo Public Beach North; 2. Leonardo Public Beach South at Beach Ave.; 3. Ideal Beach at Ocean Ave. & Bayside Pkwy.; 4. Bayshore Waterfront Park meet at Fishing Pier
- Monmouth Beach - Bathing Pavilion at 29 Ocean Ave.
- Ocean Grove - Main St. Beach; Meet at Flagpole
- Red Bank-Meet at Chapin Ave. for more information contact Laura Bagwell at (732) 533 3951
- Sandy Hook - Parking Lot D (Seagulls' Nest Restaurant) - Site Sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, New Jersey Natural Gas, Wakefern Food Corp. ShopRite
- Sea Bright (4 sites) - 1. Ferguson Beach, north of Rumson/Sea Bright Bridge; 2. Meet at Gaiter's Restaurant Oceanside; 3. Meet at Algarve Milano oceanside 4. Meet at parking lot Site Sponsored by the Grove
- Sea Girt - Boardwalk at Beacon Blvd - Site sponsored by Brook 35 & West
- Spring Lake -South End Pavilion at Atlantic & Ocean Aves - Site sponsored by Brook 35 & West
- Union Beach - Florence Ave at Front St - Site sponsored by New Jersey American Water
For more information on the sweeps or to register a group of 10 or more people, visit www.cleanoceanaction.org and click on the Beach Sweeps tab.
Who knows what you might find?