Coastal Cleanup Day 2012 Sizzles In L.A. County

Braving scorching heat, Southland volunteers collected and removed nearly 20 tons of ocean-bound trash today from Los Angeles County watersheds as part of Heal the Bay’s 23rd annual Coastal Cleanup Day.

Boy Scout troop volunteered at Manhattan Beach Pier site

Working together to protect what they love, 9,323 participants scoured local beaches, inland waterways, regional parks and urban neighborhoods from 9 a.m. to noon. Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay mobilized 58 sites throughout the county, covering 56 miles of terrain.

From Compton to Malibu, local businesses, faith-based organizations, school groups and youth sports teams worked in tandem to gather and remove 38,598 pounds of debris. Cigarette butts, plastic bottles and caps, snack-food packaging, plastic bags and Styrofoam fragments are among the most frequently found items at cleanups.

Divers in Malibu listen to their pre-dive cleanup briefing before they head out to clean underneath the Malibu Pier

Among the unusual objects uncovered at today’s cleanups: a dead rooster with its head cut off, likely a remnant of a voodoo or Santeria ritual (Santa Monica Beach); a dead cat found in a bag (Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park); a rifle barrel, later confiscated by police (found by divers in the water off Redondo Beach Pier); and a 25-gallon container filled with oil sludge, dumped near a creek (Agoura Hills). And in the “Only in L.A.” file: a tattered headshot of an aspiring actor found by divers on the sea bottom near the Santa Monica Pier.

Sites spanned the entire county this year. SCUBA dive teams canvassed under the Santa Monica, Malibu and Redondo Beach piers and off Long Beach, while a flotilla of kayakers removed trash from Marina del Rey. A contingent of mountain bike riders went off road in Malibu Creek to haul away pounds of man-made detritus.

Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguards Captain Remy Smith and Ocean Lifeguard Marcus Chapman, Jerry Burge from the Black Surfing Association, and Meredith McCarthy, Programs Director at Heal the Bay volunteering at Santa Monica Bay Street cleanup sIte

Urban runoff from more than 200 storm drains flowing out to Santa Monica and San Pedro bays causes the vast majority of local ocean pollution. By removing tons of trash from beaches and inland neighborhoods, cleanup participants enhance quality of life, protect marine animals and bolster the regional economy.

Nearly 400,000 jobs in Los Angeles County are ocean-related, responsible for $10 billion annually in wages and $20 billion in goods and services.

A volunteer collects trash on the ocean’s edge on Santa Monica Beach

“Code Red” locations in need of special attention this year included Dominguez Channel and Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park. These urban sites drain runoff from huge swaths of Los Angeles County and are overwhelmed by such litter as plastic bags and fast-food packaging.

Volunteers get ready to clean up Malibu State Park on mountain bikes

Heal the Bay’s Coastal Cleanup Day campaigns have captured a cumulative 1.6 million pounds of trash since 1990.

“Coastal Cleanup Day 2012 was an amazing day of action demonstrated that each and every one of us can have a direct and immediate impact on improving our environment,” said Eveline Bravo, Heal the Bay’s beach programs manager. “It’s our hope that people will keep that spirit of involvement and stewardship alive throughout the year and keep trash off our beaches and streets.”

Volunteers cleaned up Malibu State Park on mountain bikes and removed over 300 lbs of trash including 2 boats, chairs, partial canoes, balls of every kind, Styrofoam, lots of plastic bottles

About Coastal Cleanup Day
Heal the Bay organizes Coastal Cleanup Day in Los Angeles County in partnership with the California Coastal Commission. The L.A. campaign is part of a global international event led by the Ocean Conservancy that encompasses 6 million volunteers in 90 countries and all states in the U.S.  The day has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s biggest 24-hour volunteer event.

This year’s sponsors include Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, KTLA5, Mattel, Union Bank of California, Ralphs, UmeTime and the City of Santa Monica. Neutrogena and ClifBar also supported our volunteers with donated items.

About Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean.


Images courtesy of Heal The Bay. 

Downloadable images of today’s cleanup available at

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