Volunteers explore the sand in search of debris north of the Santa Monica Pier during Heal the Bay's Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday. The Coastal Cleanup gathers hundreds of volunteers together to walk along picking up trash on the beaches of Southern California.

SM BAY — An all-time number of volunteers last Saturday collected more than 100,000 pounds of ocean-bound trash from local waters as part of Heal the Bay’s 21st annual Coastal Cleanup Day.

Despite blazing heat throughout the region, participants scoured Southland beaches, inland waterways, regional parks and urban neighborhoods. Some 14,131 volunteers mobilized from 9 a.m. to noon at 65 sites throughout the county, covering 101 miles, according to officials with Heal the Bay.

City crews, families, local businesses, faith-based organizations, schools and youth sports teams worked in tandem to gather and remove 103,524 pounds of debris.

Urban runoff from more than 200 storm drains flowing out to Santa Monica and San Pedro bays causes the vast majority of local ocean pollution. By removing tons of trash from beaches and inland neighborhoods, cleanup participants enhance quality of life, protect marine animals and bolster the regional economy, Heal the Bay officials said.

“Code Red” locations in need of special attention this year included Dominguez Channel, Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, the Los Angeles River and Encino’s Haskell Creek. These urban sites drain runoff from huge swaths of Los Angeles County and are overwhelmed by such litter as plastic bags and fast-food packaging.

Heal the Bay’s campaigns have captured a cumulative 1.57 million pounds of trash since 1990. Cigarette butts, plastic bottle caps and Styrofoam fragments are the most frequently found items at cleanups, said Matthew King, spokesman for Heal the Bay.

Sites covered the entire county this year, from Tujunga to Long Beach, Compton to Malibu. SCUBA dive teams canvassed under the Santa Monica and Redondo Beach piers, while a flotilla of kayakers removed trash from Marina del Rey.

Among the unusual items found this year: three bowling balls cut in half at Coyote Creek Trail (Cerritos); a vibrator discovered in Lake Machado (Ken Malloy Regional Park); goatskin hide and mummified cat (Tujunga Wash); a submerged gas-burning stove (Redondo Pier dive site); several crack pipes (Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu); and a floating bag of marshmallows (Marina del Rey kayak site).

“Coastal Cleanup Day 2010 was a record-breaking day of action that made an immediate impact on our oceans,” said Eveline Bravo, Heal the Bay’s beach programs manager. “But its lasting impact is teaching people what they can do in their daily lives throughout the year to combat neighborhood blight and beach pollution.”


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