The cleanup team pulls an old drum out of the water. (Photo: Alvina Siddiqui)
“It’s a good opportunity for us to see what’s underneath the shorelines, the threat of shoreline litter and what our cleanups do to help prevent litter before it actually reaches this level,” Debreceni says. “It’s one of the largest threats facing the health of our waterways.”
These trash items not only cause entanglement, strangulation and starvation for marine life, but degrading garbage uses up oxygen, making the levels too low for animals to thrive.
Vancouver Aquarium staff members started the Cleanup in 1994, with the event going national in 2002. Last year, close to 2,000 registered sites covered over 3,000 kilometres.
But here’s the real dirt: close to 1.1 million items were picked up, weighing around 99,000 kilograms.
“We find everything from bicycles, fences, chairs, toilets — whatever you can imagine,” says Constable Ralph Millaire of the Ottawa Police Marine Dive and Trail Unit.