Marine Debris

By Jacque Winberg

Marine debris seems to be a normal part life these days. A typical beach day in Orange County, California includes encounters with trash in the sand or ocean. Things you may see: plastic fragments or syringes sticking out of sand castles, chip and snack bags buried under mounds of sand, fishing nets wound around sea plants, plastic bags dancing in the waves. Through a dedicated network of individuals who care about wildlife and the environment, Coastal Angels continues to spread awareness about marine debris on our Orange County coastline. 

Coastal pollution comes from many sources, including littering on land, urban and commercial runoff, fishing, shipping (private and commercial), oil rigs, and tourism (cruise ships and boats). Based on Coastal Angels' surveys and observations at monthly beach cleanups, the specific items commonly found are: tar patties, Styrofoam, chip and candy bags, clear snack bags, plastic utensils, lighters, bottle caps, alcohol bottles, bottles, syringes, prescription bottles and drugs, adult toys, used tampons, condoms, and pads, hangers, diapers, animal feces, dead animals (mostly sea birds), cigarettes, balloons, small plastic bits, fishing nets, lines, and hooks, clothing, toothbrushes, nails, sponges, straws, zip ties, batteries, and ribbons. As you begin to understand the coastal pollution problem, you'll see that household items are a major factor.

Marine Debris can harm people, marine life, and the environment. Wildlife may taste or eat trash in the water or on the sand and have difficulty digesting it, thus potentially leading to death. In this video captured by Coastal Angels, watch as a seagull tastes a balloon, click here. People may get cut by glass or plastic or stamped by tar. The general health of the beach may decline and then get a bad reputation. It can also be absorbed into the wildlife that eat it and cause contamination in the food chain. 

There are so many ways for you to help Coastal Angels make a difference. The first would be to participate in our beach cleanups, click here for our schedule. The second would be to make a donation to maintain and support our efforts, resources, and volunteers by clicking here. The third would be do recycle bottles, cans, and your household trash more often. Fourth, researching and visiting places like the Aquarium of the Pacific to broaden your understanding of marine biology and biodiversity. Fifth, refuse to purchase single-use plastics. These are very manageable and simple ways to make a big difference in the long term pollution crisis.