Saturday, June 19, 2021

Emerald Keepers Partners with Naval Base Coronado to Remove Marine Debris

Last Friday, Emerald Keepers proudly partnered with Naval Base Coronado’s Environmental division to clean up “Delta Beach,” bringing approximately 80 volunteers to comb the stretch of San Diego Bay between Fiddler’s Cove and the Naval Amphibious Base.

Special thanks to Base Operations Officer, CDR Kimberly Ernst, and Planning and Conservation Branch Manager, Joyce Sisson, for coordinating this clean-up and two ocean beach clean-ups on the new Navy Coastal Campus and Breakers Beach at North Island. Thanks to YMCA Camp Surf Director, Zayanne Thompson, who provided those without base access parking for the Coastal Campus clean-up two weeks ago and encouraged Rotarians to participate.

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This past Friday was the first time Delta Beach had been cleaned since Emerald Keepers’ Can the Trash in September. “I knew there was trash on the beach, but I was truly surprised at just how much there really was. We worked for three solid hours and still didn’t get it all!” said Kimberly Ernst.

The timing of the clean-up was particularly relevant as the beach is a protected nesting area for the Snowy Plover and Least Tern; nesting season begins next month.

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Volunteers picked up bottles, bags, food containers, bottle caps, jugs, buckets, crates—ALL PLASTIC—as well as personal care products, shoes, backpacks, PPE, and Styrofoam… so much Styrofoam! Littered throughout were kids’ toys, Christmas ornaments, ear plugs, micro plastics, cigarette butts, and straws galore! Volunteers even waded into the cold water and sunk into the mud to retrieve many plastic bags, bottles and jugs.

“Along the shoreline of our beautiful San Diego Bay it was impossible to walk more than five feet without the need to bend over and pick up garbage. From pulling plastic bags and waterlogged tennis shoes out of the bay to separating pieces of micro plastic sprinkled throughout the sand to dragging larger items like mattresses and seat cushions washed ashore—it was difficult but highly rewarding work,” said Zayanne Thompson. “Knowing that we were working together to get the area ready for the nesting season of endangered birds made it all the more worthwhile.”

Sarah Jones said, “As I filled my bucket with little pieces of plastic, I was glad I was keeping them out of the stomachs of local birds and sea life.”

A dead sea lion washed up at the north end of the beach was testament that we can and must do better.

Volunteers filled buckets that were dumped into large garbage bags that were picked up by Navy Seabees driving trucks up and down the beach. Two 20-foot dumpsters were filled totaling over 2000 pounds of trash removed over a three hour period.

Laura McNeal posted photos of the clean-up on Facebook and commented, “It was honestly therapeutic. I would do it every week for the privilege of being inside the preserve!”

“Everyone who helped is an Emerald Keeper,” said Emerald Keepers President Amy Steward. “It filled my heart with gratitude to see so many people on a such blustery day picking up all the trash. It felt hopeful.”

The next beach clean-up this Friday (Feb. 19, 9am – 11am), requires base access. The Navy and Emerald Keepers will clean Breakers Beach to Zuniga Point. Meet in Heritage Park, parking lot just north of the Navy Lodge. Bring your gloves, bucket, and pick-up sticks. Wear a mask and socially distance.

Emerald Keepers encourages everyone to grab a bucket and take a walk on the beach to pick up trash. Use the Marine Debris Tracker App to double your impact by informing scientists of the debris you find. The app tutorial and information about organized beach clean-ups can be found at


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