Have you ever gone for a walk along a shoreline and taken a close look to see what you can find? One morning, we joined a class from Lord Selkirk Elementary School for a scheduled beach walk and shoreline cleanup led by Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre educators to see first-hand what could be found. At first it didn’t seem like there was much to see, nor would there be much to pick up.

However, over the course of an hour, the students poked and prodded, letting their curiosity get the best of them, and one by one a variety of marine critters started to appear. It was like playing a game of “I spy” and in the end we uncovered a dozen different species of marine life. Here’s a few photos of what we found:

One of the many shore crabs that were found under and around rocks.

A baby sea urchin nestled among barnacles.
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A constellation of sea stars.

Oysters

Yet right beside all these wonders, plenty of litter was removed. Along the same stretch of shoreline that is home to these sea stars, shore crabs, sea snails, urchins and oysters, students retrieved four kilograms of litter from entering our oceans. Spark plugs, plastic water bottles and a piece of Punjabi folk art were just a few of the many items found.

This beach walk and shoreline cleanup served as a reminder that even on seemingly clean shorelines plenty of trash, both big and small, can be found.

Shoreline cleanups can and do make a difference, little by little and piece by piece. Tens of thousands of Canadians participate in The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, every year. Last year more than 139,000 kilograms of litter was removed from more than 1,800 sites across Canada. They happen anywhere land connects to water, such as lakeshores, river banks, stream beds, ponds and coast lines. Cleanups can happen anytime: next week, next month or this fall; whenever you can or want to get a group of people together.

So gather a group of people and take some time to see what you can spy along your shoreline. Painted turtles, frogs, trout, beverage cans, bottle caps? We never know what we’re missing. You can register your cleanup today at shorelinecleanup.ca.

Blog post submitted by Jean Fong, communications and marketing coordinator with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF Canada, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and supported by Ricoh Canada. 

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