Large turnout for Beach Sweeps

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People scour the beach for debris Saturday, Oct. 19 during the 28th annual Fall Beach Sweeps by Clean Ocean Action. People scour the beach for debris Saturday, Oct. 19 during the 28th annual Fall Beach Sweeps by Clean Ocean Action.

VENTNOR – The calendar says summer is over but you wouldn’t have known it given the turnout and the weather for the Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps on Saturday.

There were at least 100 people on the beach in Ventnor for the 28th annual fall Beach Sweeps Saturday, Oct. 19. Beach Sweep Captain Beth Kwart, of Ventnor, was stationed at Newport Avenue signing people in and handing out trash bags and gloves, provided by Atlantic City Electric. In addition to volunteering with Clean Ocean Action, Kwart also serves a secretary of the South Jersey Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

“I’m very pleased,” Kwart said. “This is great. It’s really exciting to have this many people here.”

Groups came near and far to clean the beaches along Absecon Island while sweeps were happening up and down the New Jersey coast.

Among the groups in Ventnor were the Caring Kids Club of Oak Knoll Elementary School in Williamstown, the Atlantic City High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, Rochelle Gimmillaro’s seventh-grade science class and various residents.

“I have to thank the volunteers,” Kwart said. “Hopefully they are having a good time today because it can be a fun day to hang out on the beach – even if you’re cleaning it up.”

She said the top three items group collected were 270 cigarette butts, 173 plastic bottle caps and 144 plastic bottles in about two miles on either side of Newport Avenue beach.

Franz Adler, the Beach Sweeps captain of Margate, said it was a nice morning which may have contributed to the good turnout of volunteers.  

“I think everything was wonderful,” Adler said. “There were adults, people from Margate schools who came out, a commissioner, and some people from the ACUA plus some different residents; overall it was a good turnout.”

John Bonino of Upper Township was captaining the Beach Sweeps in Longport and coordinating 30 volunteers with Commissioner Jim Leeds.

Bonino, who is also a treasurer of the local Surfrider chapter, was also promoting Rise Above Plastics month, a program by Surfrider.

“The reason the events are in the spring and fall is typically we have bigger storms that eject form and plastic from the North Atlantic Gyre onto the beach,” Bonino said.

While volunteers swept the beaches across the state, they were also inventorying what and where it was found. Bonino said those totals establish a baseline and provide local and state agencies to determine what types of debris are most common and where it is coming from.

Leeds said Monday, Oct. 21 that he noticed a lot of the plastic had already been processed and he is providing that information to local agencies.

“The majority of what we picked up were these plastic water and soda bottles that were washed up from this nor’easter,” Leeds said. “But they were crushed, which means they were already picked up by a municipality and put into a truck. They weren’t just discarded bottles people left on the beach; these would have been floating in the ocean and they ended up on the beach, which to me means they came from a landfill somewhere or a barge somewhere out in the ocean.”

Leeds said it is typical to see that type of material wash up on the beach occasionally.

“It’s an unusual observation,” Leeds said. “I’ve never seen so much crushed plastic.”

See www.cleanoceanaction.org for information about the Beach Sweeps, including data reports. 

Beth Kwart said the top items her group collected were 270 cigarette butts, 173 plastic bottle caps and 144 plastic bottles in about two miles on either side of Newport Avenue beach in Ventnor. Beth Kwart said the top items her group collected were 270 cigarette butts, 173 plastic bottle caps and 144 plastic bottles in about two miles on either side of Newport Avenue beach in Ventnor.

Photos by Shaun Smith


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