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Dec 06, 2021

Clean Ocean Action Hosts 36th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps

Volunteers pitch in at the Anchorage site in Sea Bright.

More than 4,000 volunteers gathered on Oct. 23 at 70 New Jersey beaches and waterways to clean harmful debris as part of Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 36th annual Fall Beach Sweeps. These dedicated volunteers collected and tabulated debris and that data, combined with the data from the Spring Beach Sweeps, will be publicized in the 2021 annual Beach Sweeps Report. That report will be released in April 2022, prior to the 37th annual Spring Beach Sweeps. These Beach Sweeps help to reduce litter that is harmful and often lethal to wildlife. 

“The hard work and effort of the volunteers goes beyond leaving a cleaner beach. Volunteers at the Beach Sweeps become citizen scientists, documenting a snapshot of the types and amounts of litter found on the Jersey Shore. Their efforts help us work toward a future where beach cleanups are not needed because litter is prevented at the source,” stated Alison Jones, COA Watershed Program coordinator. 

COA Executive Director Cindy Zipf added, “The Beach Sweeps is a wake-up call to the small and the tall about the problem of marine debris. Thanks to volunteers careful recording of what they’ve collected over the years, we know that over 7.4 million pieces of trash has been removed. These facts are being used by local, state and federal officials to reduce sources of marine debris.”

Here are the preliminary results from Sandy Hook collected by more than 470 volunteers, including the top five items:

(1) – 6,593 bottle caps/lids

(2) – 6,488 food and candy wrappers/bags

(3) – 5,791 plastic pieces

(4) – 3,461 plastic straws/stirrers

(5) – 1,421 foam pieces

Volunteers also note any out-of-the-ordinary finds to compile “The Roster of the Ridiculous.” Some of this year’s items included: a life jacket, doll head, Barbie shoe, test tube, printer ink, a religious plate, Legos, burnt straws, Christmas decorations, compressed car, ear plugs and a rabies vaccination dog tag from Eastchester, New York.

Photos courtesy of Clean Ocean Action: Neck High School ROTC members volunteer at the 36th annual Fall Beach Sweep.

Colin Truett, Beach Sweeps coordinator and student at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), said, “50 MAST students, including myself, are honored to be a part of Clean Ocean Action’s Fall Beach Sweeps. The data helps students to research the effects of pollution on our local waterways.”

To view data presented in the 2020 annual report, visit