Dozens of volunteers gathered at Seahurst Park in Burien on Saturday for an International Coastal Cleanup event.
“It’s a little attention-focused,” said Robert Young, picking his way down the waterline.
Volunteers collected 178 pounds of trash at the park – including small pieces of plastic debris.
“Lots of cigarette butts,” said Cyndi Gongora of SeaTac. “Plastics. Plastic bottle caps.”
“You’d be amazed at what you find, look at this little piece of plastic wiring,” said Young.
“I think we’re stewards of the planet, and it’s important for us not to make it worse than it already is,” he added.
The event comes at a time when many eyes are focused on the water – and the struggling Southern Resident orcas that live there.
“Now that whales have died, it’s definitely brought it to my attention,” said Young.
“Plastic is 90 percent of the marine trash we’re finding right now,” said Kharli Rose of the Environmental Science Center. “Fish are eating it, and we know our resident orcas are eating salmon, so all those little things add up.”
The Orca Conservancy was also on hand to discuss their plight. Especially with NOAA scaling back the search for the orca J-50, who has been presumed dead by some groups.
“It’s very sad, and I think that’s what drew people here,” said Rose. “They saw what’s happening with the orcas and this is a way for them to make a difference.”
“The beaches need us, and we need the beaches,” said volunteer Peta Dalzell.
Young said it’s a small impact, but he’s still glad to be doing something to help the Southern Residents.
“People are arguing about the various causes, but you know, you can go grab a plastic bag and pick up garbage on the beach,” he said.