On June 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., volunteers will join Marc Ward and his Blue Wave team to screen harmful microplastic from Neahkahnie and Manzanita beaches.
Microplastic is the name for the confetti-like bits that coat the beach’s high tide line, where people walk barefoot, kids play and dogs frolic. The tiny pieces, residue of larger plastic debris fouling the ocean, absorb chemicals such as PCBs, flame retardants (PBDEs), pesticides and the like. Some of these are proven carcinogens that not only can be absorbed through the skin, but also are eaten by seabirds, fish, crabs and other marine life, entering the food chain.
Kate Eskew, whose family is from Manzanita, is organizing the cleanup. She needs $1,000 for the one-day event, although a thorough cleaning takes three to six days. If she gets enough funding, she will extend the event. She’d like to make it annual.
Ward, of Seaside, who invented the sand-screening method that creates an electrostatic charge to capture the microplastic, will conduct a training session at 10 a.m., then lead the daylong cleanup. Last year, 200 volunteers worked with Ward’s team to clean 1.37 miles of beach, removing about 350 pounds of debris in six days.
“One thing that always shocks people is the terrible odor a large bag of microplastic gives off,” Ward said. “You don’t notice the smell when the plastic is spread out on the beach, but concentrate 40 pounds in a trash bag, let it warm up, and it gives off the most terrible chemical smell.
“Plastic on the beach off-gasses all summer long in the heat; you just don’t notice it with the ocean breeze blowing. We need to keep all that contaminated material off the beach, where thousands of children play.”
Volunteers should meet at the foot of Laneda Avenue in Manzanita at 10 a.m. Saturday. To preregister, visit Eskew’s crowdfunding site, www.crowdrise.com/ManzanitaMicroplasticCleanup2016/fundraiser/kateeskew.
There are several ways to donate funds. Visit Eskew’s site, or earmark donations for the Manzanita Microplastic Cleanup 2016 and donate through Ward’s site, www.seaturtlesforever.org. Or, drop off donations, payable to Sea Turtles Forever, at CARTM. Donations also can be mailed to Sea Turtles Forever, PO Box 845, Seaside, OR 97138. Sea Turtles Forever is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tillamook County Solid Waste and CARTM are partnering with it for this event.