Clean Ocean Action

2003 Beach Sweeps Report

2003 Data Shows "Sweeping" Evidence of Ocean Pollution

The results from Clean Ocean Action's three 2003 Beach Sweeps events, compiled in an annual report, provides clear evidence of marine pollution along New Jersey's shore and highlights the need for cleanup programs and enforcement of litter laws.

Last year, the Spring and Fall Beach Sweeps and the underwater cleanup, combined, attracted 4,622 volunteers to the Jersey Shore.  These volunteers collected and categorized 242,714 pieces of debris at 114 locations, totaling nearly 66,000 pounds.  Over 280 organizations, including 22 business teams, 54 Girl and Boy Scouts groups, and 100 schools participated in the 2003 cleanups. 

According to the report, the largest offenders of marine pollution are plastics.  In 2003, plastic items contributed to 69% and foam plastics were 8% of the total items collected.  Volunteers also picked up 29,907 cigarette filters, which are made of plastic.

In 2003, volunteers recorded 22 animals entangled in debris, most of which was plastic.  In addition, the report says balloons in the marine environment remain a serious threat to birds and marine life that mistake balloons for food.  Last year, volunteers picked up 4,228 Mylar and rubber balloons with and without string and ribbon from NJ's beaches.

"New Jersey's Dirty Dozen", which is a list of the top 12 items that are most frequently collected and recorded at COA's Beach Sweeps that year, contributed to nearly 65% of the items collected in 2003.  Eight of the top twelve items were plastics.

While all debris collected from the beaches should be considered unusual or unnatural, COA compiles a list of the most unusual items found during the Sweeps each year.  The 2003 "Roster of the Ridiculous" includes 256 firecracker or fireworks pieces, 152 socks, 100 pieces of insulation, 69 batteries, 53 crayons, 3 car mufflers, and a purple wig.

To view or download pages (in Adobe PDF) from the 2003 Beach Sweeps report, click the links below:


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

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