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International Coastal Cleanup comes to Pryibil Beach

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Each year in the fall, hundreds of thousands of people in more than 75 countries remove trash from beaches and waterways, taking part in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

Pryibil Beach, in Glen Cove was one of the beaches that received some TLC last weekend from 92 volunteers.

Glen Cove resident Wendy Wang came to the event on Saturday with her family to help fulfill her son’s Boy Scout responsibilities and to help keep one of the local beaches clean. “We want to make sure that [Glen Cove] stays beautiful,” Wang said. “It’s good to see so many people out helping this morning.”

In an effort that has typically taken place in September for the past two decades, locals scanned the park for garbage as, for the third year, scuba divers searched the bottom of Long Island Sound for litter. The Glen Cove Beautification Commission coordinates a cleanup at Pryibil Beach one year, and Morgan Memorial Park Beach the next.

All of the garbage that is collected is documented by volunteers using a checklist created by the commission.

“For us here in Glen Cove, it’s important to see if there’s an increase or a decrease in the amount of litter that’s going on,” said Damion Stavredes, a program supervisor for the commission.  “The purpose of the beautification program is education. So, once we put this information out there, people that come to the beach, residents, will hopefully be a little bit more mindful, and maybe they won’t be inclined to toss their cigarette butts or plastics.”

The American Littoral Society and the Ocean Conservancy catalog everything picked up along the shore or on the bottom of the Sound, Stavredes explained. According to Ocean Conservancy literature, the annual International Coastal Cleanup reports, which include information on the types of trash that are picked up, and where, have played a direct role in shaping national legislation and in helping municipalities create recycling or other programs to prevent debris from ending up in the oceans or on their shores.

“I live in Glen Cove, so that’s why I try to help my town,” said Martha Katz, the owner of Scuba Network, the shop that sends the scuba diving volunteers each year. She added that many of the divers focused on the area around the pier, searching for debris from fisherman.

“Today there were people who came last year as well, who were telling me that the beach is much cleaner this year,” Katz said. “Also, one of the guys showed me that the underwater is much cleaner than . . . it used to be.”

In 2014, the first year the Scuba Network got involved in the cleanup, the divers filled hundreds of bags with trash they found, Katz said.

“We do it at least once a year — we clean the environment below the water and above the water, so that it’s good for all of us,” she said. “When residents from Glen Cove come to the beaches, they feel better because the beach is cleaned. That’s what we go for.”

Joan Bessette, a member of the beautification commission, said that events like this are helping Glen Cove residents become more environmentally conscious. “Generally, our beaches are pretty clean and they just want to maintain that,” Bessette said, “and volunteering makes people feel good.”

“Today’s a great turnout,” Stavredes said. “We are hoping to keep this going as long as we can.”