By Volunteer Hannah Nelson
Southern California is known for its pristine beaches and sunny weather. However, this winter has been a bit different! The Southern California coastline has been getting battered by rain this winter season and while the state greatly needs the rain, we don’t need the trash that comes with it.
That’s why we decided to pull together a group of ODA volunteers in the Southern California area to clean up a much-needed beach area: the Santa Ana River Jetty. This channel lies right on the border of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. Just last week after a few good days of rain, fellow volunteer Pete Markel and I knew the channel would have some trash build up, and oh were we right! We checked out the location on the Newport Beach side and quickly realized that even at low tide, we would have to access the jetty on the Huntington side in order to clean up what we saw. We knew we had to try our best to collect and dispose of all that debris!
This location is unique given that it borders some of the nicest neighborhoods and beachfront in the area, yet it seems like no one is doing anything about the immense amount of trash that we saw.
On the jetty, most of the trash was entangled in the ocean detritus that washes up at high tide and sticks to the beach at low tide. This made it a bit more difficult to pull all of the trash out, but we tried our best!
It seems that in the most recent cleanups that I've been a part of, the biggest polluter on the beach has been Styrofoam.
Styrofoam is a big issue as it breaks apart incredibly easily and this makes it almost impossible to remove. Seabirds and ocean life often mistake these little bits as food and are inclined to eat them, affecting their health and lifespan.
After just a couple of hours on the jetty, the nine of us gathered up about 22 bags of debris totaling nearly 500 lbs.
While there is still much more to be done at the location, we made a good dent!
Everyone was already talking about the next time we will be making our way back out there.
I want to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who showed up: Dave and Jean Merril, Kent Morris, Dulce Lopez, Gaby DiChiro, Brett Bacharach, Tommy Markel, and Pete Markel.
We had a very productive day and can’t wait to get out again! If you live in Southern California and would like to share the joy, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.