Beach clean up at Grant Bay

“The beach is looking spotless.”

A group of volunteers collected a huge amount of garbage at Grant Bay during a three-day beach clean up.

The group was led by Living Oceans, a non-profit society founded in Sointula that works to reduce harmful human impacts on the ocean.

“I was excited to see that they were organizing it,” said Anna Burgees of Cove Adventure tours. “We came out with a group of people — we were just excited to show up and help.”

Burgess frequents Grant Bay quite a bit, as her business takes people on tours of scenic North Island Beaches.

“We see quite a bit of garbage from people camping, like tents and tarps left behind, which is really sad,” she said, adding “There’s a lot of plastic from the ocean – for some reason, Grant Bay just seems to have a lot of stuff washing up.”

Burgess mentioned she also sees tangled fishing nets wash up that become buried in the sand.

The three-day beach clean up, which took place between July 19-21, is part of Living Oceans Clear the Coast Initiative which aims toward removing marine debris.

Volunteers were invited to attend as long as they had their own transportation, and Living Oceans provided food and the supplies needed to clean up the beach.

“Tonnes of plastic waste are circulating on ocean currents and breaking down into smaller and smaller particles, often ending up inside seabirds, marine mammals and fish,” reads a statement on Living Oceans website.

“We focus on the north west coast of Vancouver Island because it’s relatively remote and its supposed to be pristine and beautiful,” said Maggie Dietterie who works with Living Oceans. “We managed to collect four bags on the first day, and then Cove Adventure tours came out and we collected two more,” said Dietterie.

Dietterie said Grant Bay was “a bit disappointing” in terms of the amount of debris they found left by campers, “but I would say 80 per cent was stuff coming from the ocean.” She said some of the water bottles they collected had clear Japanese labeling.

“There was a huge amount of garbage collected that will be helicoptered out” added Burgess, “The beach is looking spotless.”

Living Oceans will organize a helicopter to remove the debris collected from all the beaches cleaned this summer. “It’s hard enough to bring the gear in to start the collection. It’s impossible to carry it out so helicopter is the only way,” added Dietterie.

The next beach clean up will take place at Hecht Beach, on July 28 – 31.

To volunteer or get involved with Living Oceans beach clean ups contact them through their Facebook page at facebook.com/livingoceans.

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