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From Elvis to fireworks, it's found on our beaches

Aug 01 2012

Debris found on beaches during recent cleanups would help host a pretty elaborate wedding, says Jill Dwyer, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

An engagement ring, wedding dress, cake topper and wedding invitations have all turned up on beaches - giving rise to questions about how they got there, Dwyer said.

Then there are the truly strange finds - like the Elvis costume - and the depressing electronic appliances, which show people are continuing to use the ocean as a dumping ground.

"You name it, it has probably been found on a shoreline in Canada," said Dwyer, who is making lists of beaches to be spruced up this year and appealing for volunteers willing to don rubber gloves and scour local shorelines.

Last year's strange Vancouver Island finds included two squatters' homes, two office chairs, voodoo doll underwear, fake fingernails, fireworks and a collection of 17 bags of dog excrement neatly wrapped in green compostable bags.

With Japanese tsunami debris now arriving on beaches, local organizers expect more interesting finds this year.

Beach scouring events will take place between Sept. 15 and 23. So far, 90 cleanups have been registered on Vancouver Island in areas ranging from the Broken Group Islands to the Inner Harbour.

The cleanups are important, but Dwyer hopes they also help make the event unnecessary. "Our longterm goal is to get people to change their attitudes and behaviours," she said.

The Shoreline Cleanup, organized by the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF Canada, started in 1994 with a cleanup in Stanley Park and has since spread across the country.

Last year, volunteers removed an estimated 143,737 kilograms of litter from 3,144 kilometres of coastline. The most common items found were cigarettes, food wrappers, plastic bags and plastic bottles.

But it is hard to say whether Canadians are becoming messier, Dwyer said.

"We are removing more litter every year, but more people are participating in the program," she said.

For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, go to shorelinecleanup.ca.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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