Have you ever come across bizarre objects washed up on shore or picked up some unusual litter during a shoreline cleanup? Thanks to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup data cards, we get to learn about all the wacky items our volunteers have picked up during organized cleanups.

Volunteers are always shocked at how much waste they find and quickly notice that much of the litter falls into certain categories like — smoking related litter (cigarette butts), fast food waste, and plastics, plastics and more plastics. The top 12 items we find each year are dubbed our “Dirty Dozen” and are found from coast to coast and in all types of waterways — rivers, stream, lakes, oceans, wetlands and even around storm drains and schoolyards.

But, not all items found fall under those categories. Canadians do come across quite a few strange, unusual and bizarre items during cleanups and love to share them with us. We even have a specific spot on our data cards for “most unusual item collected.” Each year our Shoreline Cleanup team enjoys going through a list of items and voting for our favourites.

Piggy bank: another bizarre object to find during a shoreline cleanup.

Piggy bank: another bizarre object to find during a shoreline cleanup.

Here are some of the most interesting finds over the past few years:

  • Meat grinder
  • Plastic owl
  • Pogo stick
  • Rainbow clown wig
  • Scottie dog cookie cutter
  • Debit machine
  • Dungeons and dragons dice
  • Fur raccoon hat
  • Walkie‐talkie
  • A full dinner in a roasting pan — floating down the creek
  • Pig shaped salt shaker
  • Radio controlled drone
  • Elephant floaty toy
  • Helium tank
  • Jar of medication from 1978
  • Mini eiffel tower
  • Military marine location marker
  • Hamster cage
  • Message in a bottle
  • Four-foot mermaid doll
  • Stone carving of a seal

Which ones do you find most interesting? The pig shaped salt shaker and scottie dog cookie cutter top my list.

We also collect information on different sources of waste — plastics, glass, construction materials, personal hygiene and even tiny trash. Last year we filled over 15,700 trash bags weighing almost 176,000kg — that’s the same weight as 391 fully grown moose.

Tsunami debris cleanup Vancouver Aquarium

This boot was found along the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.

No matter what form it comes in, shoreline litter and pollution puts ecosystems, wildlife and people at risk. Litter can negatively impact water quality through contamination, as well as the health of plants and animals that live in that ecosystem. Local wildlife runs the risk of getting tangled in or ingesting litter or other pollutants. Be part of the solution and register your own Shoreline Cleanup and let us know what strange things you clean up from your local shoreline.

Interested in finding out more about what we pick up from our shorelines each year? Check out our Facts & Figures page.

By Sarah Odell, recruitment coordinator, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. The Shoreline Cleanup is 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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