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Santa Monica One of Three Cities Taking Part in "Shark Week" Beach Cleanup

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Lookout Staff

July 22, 2019 -- The "poster child" for beach clean-ups is usually a seal, sea turtle or whale, but on Saturday, Santa Monica will be one of three cities participating in a beach cleanup that focuses on the most feared predator stalking the ocean -- the shark.

Sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy in partnership with the Discovery Channel, the clean-up -- which takes place from 9 a.m. to noon and begins near the Pier -- draws attention to the fact that "even apex predators like sharks are vulnerable to plastic pollution,” event organizers said.

A study recently published in the journal Endangered Species Research found that dozens of shark species are "susceptible to entanglement in plastic fishing line, straps and other debris."

Plastics -- which can be found everywhere from the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean to the most remote Arctic ice -- harms more than 800 species, including the more human friendly animals commonly associated with clean-up efforts.

“One of the easiest ways to help protect sharks and other incredible ocean animals -- and to really see the ocean plastic problem for yourself -- is to participate in a cleanup,” said Allison Schutes, director of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).

“The Shark Week cleanups are a wonderful opportunity to connect Shark Week fans to our on-the-ground conservation efforts," Schutes said.

"Our hope is that participants become year-round ocean advocates and join us again in the fall for the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup.”

Santa Monica will join Knoxville and New York in Saturday's effort, which kicks off Shark Week Sunday evening on the Discovery Channel and marks the second Shark Week cleanup.

As with all ICC events, volunteers at Saturday's cleanups will "not only collect trash but also log their findings using Ocean Conservancy’s Webby Award-nominated smartphone app Clean Swell," organizers said.

"The data will be uploaded to Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Inde -- the world’s most comprehensive database of marine debris.

Since Ocean Conservancy launched its first beach cleanup in 1986, millions of volunteers have collected more than 300 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the world, according to the non-profit organization.

Two years ago marked the first time all the top-ten items collected by volunteers were made of plastic, including cigarette butts, which contain plastic filters; beverage bottles; bottle caps; grocery bags, and food wrappers.

Santa Monica has been at the forefront of the fight against plastic pollution. The beach city banned plastic bags and polystyrene before the state and expanded its restriction on plastic straws to include plastic plates, trays, cups and lidded containers.

The City's expanded ban on single-use plastics kicked in this year ("Expanded Plastics Ban Kicks in January 1," December 21, 2018).

Under the ban, food establishments must distribute food and beverages with marine degradable ware that is composed of paper, fiber, wood, wheat straw and straw, bagasse or edible material.

Santa Monica's approximately 800 food and beverage-related businesses were given six months to adjust before enforcement kicked in July 1 ("Santa Monica Expands Plastic Ban," August 15, 2018).

Assemblymember Richard Bloom, a former Santa Monica mayor, has taken the crusade statewide, sponsoring laws to ban plastic across California.

Last year, a measure co-authored by Bloom that prohibits most dine-in restaurants from offering plastic straws unless requested by a customer was signed into law ("Santa Monica Lawmaker's Bill Restricting Plastic Straws Signed Into Law," September 24, 2018).

For Saturday's cleanup, volunteers should dress and wear a hat, closed-toe shoes or sneakers and sunscreen. For more information click here

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