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Sharks Return to Cowell's Beach

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks

A young Sharks fan spots S.J. Sharkie as he joins the beach cleanup

Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists; every water bottle, sand toy and beach ball ends up somewhere once you’re done with it.

When plastic and trash are left on the beach, it ends up in the ocean where it accumulates in swirling seas of debris, the largest of which resides midway between Hawaii and San Francisco and contains approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. This is known as The Great Garbage Patch. It’s roughly twice the size of Texas.

On Aug. 18, Sharks fans came together at Cowell’s Beach to try and keep trash and plastic from making its way into our ocean. Seventy-two volunteers and five members of the Sharks organization picked up 71 pounds of trash and 33 pounds of recyclable materials on the beach. Together, everyone was thinking globally and acting locally.

This was the third beach cleanup hosted by the Sharks organization since they adopted Cowell’s Beach in 2009. Working with Save Our Shores, the Sharks and their fans have removed 231 pounds of trash and 63 pounds of recyclable materials from one of Santa Cruz’s most popular surfing spots.

BaitTanks have been placed around Santa Cruz and Capitola for people to dispose their cigarette butts.
Following a recurring trend, cigarette butts were the most common item collected by volunteers. Since Save Our Shores began their trash removal programs three years ago, they have collected more than 295,000 butts from local beaches. This is a serious problem. And ironically, their solution has an unintentional tie-in to the Sharks.

“In Santa Cruz and the city of Capitola, we have installed these BaitTanks,” said Laura Kasa, executive director of Save Our Shores. “They have a sharks fin on top and it says: ‘Save some fish. Feed me butts.’ They’ve been up about a week now and people have already started using them.”

The BaitTank stands about the height of a parking meter and allows smokers to put out their cigarettes along a grated plate on the front and dispose their cigarettes by dropping it inside the receptacle.

Kasa’s plan is to have her organization monitor the amount of cigarettes picked up before the installation of the BaitTanks vs. the amount of cigarettes picked up after. Since this is only a pilot project that was funded by a grant from the State Coastal Conservatory, Kasa has to prove these receptacles work before she can apply for more.

“They’re really unusual looking so people are intrigued,” Kasa said, “but they’re also getting the message that cigarette butts are toxic and harmful to fish.”

Click here to learn more about Save Our Shores.

Click here
to sign up to be a part of a future Sharks “Go Green” initiative.

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