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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

With the winds howling throughout southern California and the subsequent big waves pounding our shores, a small group of Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) volunteers decided to head to the beach to remove more trash.

Seal Beach and pier

We met up at an area of Seal Beach that lies just down current from a tributary of the San Gabriel River.  That river has been inundated with rainwater lately, and of course, tons and tons of plastics go along for the wild ride.

Because we wanted to do this cleanup at a low tide, we met up at 1pm on Saturday, February 4th.  The area we focused on gets flooded whenever there are extremely high tides, which we’ve had lately.  The plastics and other trash that floated down the river makes it into the ocean and then some of it gets deposited all along the high tide line of the beaches. Thankfully, we can get to it here!

Houses, palm trees, and cleanup crew

There are hundreds of houses and condos all along this stretch of beach, and the city has to put big berms of sand between the houses and the ocean to minimize the flooding.  Those sand berms are probably eight-feet high.

Right at the base of that berm is where a lot of the debris accumulates.  The city uses graders that filter the sand for large debris and then hauls that debris away to be sent to a landfill.  Graders are kind of like a tractor that has a comb-like device on the end of it to “comb” the debris out of the sand.

Cleanup crew and the berm of sand

Because they do this, most of the big stuff was already removed when we got there, but there was still plenty to remove.

For this cleanup we had a group of 13- and 14-year-olds who came all the way down from the Pasadena area to help us out.  They all attend Flintridge Preparatory.  Their names are: Eisa Hart, Justin Luo, Evan Noh, Olivia Tanouye, Ella Wang and Logan Wu.  This was the second time Evan and Justin have come out with us, and they had so much fun the last time that they recruited their classmates!

Give a hand to the parents who drove them all that way, too!!

Also helping out were: Dave and Jean Merrill, Kent Morris, and Linda Nicholes.

Working hard to clean beach

We worked the beach for about two-and-a-half hours and removed roughly 230 pounds of stuff. 

We were all disgusted by how much polystyrene (Styrofoam) we removed which was by far the largest percentage of trash type we found.  Polystyrene is the ingredient that goes into making food containers, food plates, cups, and insulation for packaging.  As that debris breaks down, it looks like fish eggs to birds and other fish who then eat it.  Not only does it sound terrible, the sad thing is that the animals stomach’s can get full of this instead of nutritious food.

Styrofoam in large pile
Small bits of Styrofoam

Of course, we also found hundreds of pieces of food wrappers, chip bags, cigarette butts, and plastic toys.  We even found a car seat…


Thanks to all who attended and made the beaches a little safer for the wildlife that call this area home.

Crew with catch of the day

Want to know more about what we do to clean-up our oceans in California? Please visit our Cali page here.