Beachgoers join forces for World Ocean Day



Kayakers, scuba divers and families gathered at La Jolla Shores beach on Sunday to pick up trash and participate in World Ocean Day, an event co-sponsored by Birch Aquarium, San Diego Coastkeepers, Think Blue San Diego and the Oceans Foundation.

Kristin Evans, education manager for Birch Aquarium, said the event is designed to combat poor understanding of the oceans and their use.

“There’s an interaction, and we rely on the oceans for food, recreation, transportation and energy,” Evans said. “There are things people can do every single day to better the ocean’s health and theirs.”

Birch Aquarium employee Wendy Lee said those things include simple steps like throwing your trash away or recycling.

The beach cleanup, organized primarily by San Diego Coastkeepers, ran from 9 to 11 a.m. and featured beachgoers armed with plastic bags and rubber gloves, kayakers rounding up floating debris and a squadron of scuba divers retrieving underwater trash.

Sarah Blakeslee, Coastkeepers volunteer coordinator, said the event attracted more than 100 participants and succeeded in removing about 60 pounds of trash from the beach.

While the event has been unofficially celebrated for years, this year marks the first time it has been held as an official international event, with the United Nations declaring June 8 World Ocean Day.

Jim Bardiau, 42, of Tucson, Ariz., was vacationing in Pacific Beach with his family when he learned about the beach cleanup through the Coastkeepers’ Web site.

“There are too many people who aren’t considerate of their litter, and we’ve seen situations where seals are trapped in trash,” Bardiau said. “I just want to do what I can to stop those kinds of things from happening, and we’re thankful that people are willing to donate their time to come out here and clean up.”

Evans said the aquarium hopes the collaboration with the Coastkeepers, Think Blue San Diego and the Oceans Foundation will allow them to better broadcast their message of awareness and respect for the oceans.

“It’s a slow message, but we’re getting it out there,” Evans said.

“It’s about building that common knowledge and familiarity.”