Nearly 11,000 volunteers spanned Los Angeles County on Saturday and picked up 22 tons of debris from beaches, parks, creeks and harbors as part of the annual Coastal Cleanup Day.
More than 100 volunteers boarded kayaks in Marina del Rey as part of a harbor cleanup organized by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, including Juliya Cortez, 7, of Gardena, and her mother, Jacqueline Alas.
The duo picked out styrofoam, a diaper, sandals, cigarette butts, a can of soda and half a plastic six-pack holder and other debris while paddling on a kayak in the marina.
When asked why she wanted to participate in the event, Juliya had a simple one-word answer: "Nature."
The event was coordinated throughout the county by Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay and was part of a global volunteer event led by the Ocean Conservancy.
Divers scouring the ocean near the Santa Monica Pier found a wallet with $6 in cash, credit cards and a driver's license with a 2004 expiration date that apparently belonged to an Encino resident named Kristine Bradley.
Other notable objects recovered Saturday included a World War I-era khaki green gas mask at the Santa Monica Pier dive site, the front panel of a small safe at Toes Beach in Playa del Rey and an 8-inch enameled human fingernail in Compton Creek.
Shelley Luce, executive director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, said the event was a great opportunity to introduce Marina del Rey to people and highlight the marine trash problem.
"It's not just about the big water bottles and things like that, what people end up picking up tdoay is a lot of little tiny pieces of stuff that would otherwise end up in the ocean and being eaten by animals," Luce said. "So people really start to understand the difficulty of removing this stuff once it's in the water."
She said the cleanup also helps build support for environmental measures, such as Los Angeles County's recent ban on plastic bags in unincorporated areas.
Coastal Cleanup Day sponsor Ford Motor Co. offered volunteers at the Dockweiler State Beach site in Playa del Rey test drives of its 2011 models and donated $50 to Heal the Bay for every test drive taken. Volunteers were entered into a drawing to win a new Ford Escape hybrid and Cindy Kent of Long Beach won the vehicle.
“Coastal Cleanup Day 2011 volunteers collected a record amount of trash today,” Eveline Bravo, Heal the Bay’s beach programs manager, said in a statement. “It’s a remarkable day of action but we hope that the experience provides a lifetime of education about how to protect our oceans and neighborhoods.”
There were roughly 60 designated cleanup sites along the coast and inland, including dive teams at Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu Pier, Redondo Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. Kayakers from the REI Santa Monica store also helped clean up Ballona Creek.
Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, were on hand at the Marina del Rey kayak cleanup.
The international Coastal Cleanup Day has been recognized as the largest 24-hour volunteer effort on the planet.
Editor's Note: Marina del Rey Patch editor Paul Chavez participated in the Marina del Rey kayak cleanup as part of Patch's Give 5 program in which employees donate five days a year to local organizations needing volunteers.