Cadboro Bay cleanup preserves local treasure

Plastics polluting beaches across Vancouver Island

A day at the beach is normally a carefree time to enjoy the sun and frolic in the water with friends and family. But a trip to Cadboro Bay beach this weekend will carry much more serious overtones for one group of local residents.

The Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation chapter will lead the annual beach cleanup at Cadboro-Gyro Park starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. The main reason behind the effort is to rid the beach of tiny plastic debris, a problem that stretches right across the coast of Vancouver Island.

“Cadboro beach is one of the worst around, it’s full of micro plastics,” said Lynn Wharram of the local Surfrider Foundation chapter. “For a local beach, it’s insane, you can spend an hour in a square foot area.”

The volunteers will work to rid the beach of cigarette butts, bits of plastic and nurdles, a very small pellet of plastic that serves as raw material in the manufacture of plastic products. Many of the nurdles are believed to be from a major spill off the coast of Hong Kong in 2012. The beads are shipped to factories where they are melted and moulded into a variety of products. In the ocean, they collect toxins which they potentially leach out somewhere else, or worse, they are eaten by animals and go into the food chain.

“Think about all the microbeads of plastic that come out of our clothes in washing machines and go straight to sea in Victoria without treatment, not too mention the evidence researchers are finding inside animals,” said volunteer Randall Cook.

The beach cleanup is an important step in preserving the beautiful beaches those of us in Saanich and throughout Greater Victoria treasure. More hands would always be appreciated at Sunday’s cleanup, and volunteers don’t need to bring a thing, as gloves, bags and buckets will be provided. And even if you can’t make it to Sunday’s cleanup, the next time you’re at the beach remember the effort that has gone into making it the beautiful setting it is, and discard your plastic and other debris in the receptacles where they belong.