Published: July 25, 2017

    The Strangest Items Found Dumped in the Ocean

    The sheer amount of waste that finds its way into the ocean each year is hard to quantify, and harder still to comprehend. To get an idea of how much human waste is damaging the vital ecosystems of the ocean look no further than Ocean Health Index compiled with data from Ocean Conservancy.

    Every year nearly a million volunteers take part in the International Coastal Cleanup to rid the world’s beaches of the endless waste that pollutes our oceans. The Ocean Health Index allows scientists and activists to evaluate the health of the ocean by providing raw data that shed light on the true cost of ocean waste.

    Volunteers track every single piece of trash they collect during the Cleanup in the Clean Swell app so the data can be analyzed and distributed across the planet. Of course, the main contributors to ocean waste are plastic waste and cigarette debris. According to the latest data, exactly 1,863,838 cigarette butts were collected during 2016’s Cleanup.

    While cigarette butts were the most common waste item, they were closely followed by plastic beverage bottles with 1,578,834 bottles collected. However, if you take into account all of the various plastic items found on the world’s coasts (like bottle caps, grocery bags, food wrappers, lids, and straws) the total amount for 2016 alone exceeds 4,875,000 items of plastic. That’s rough!

    Plastic waste can be fatal for marine organisms and wildlife in the world’s beaches. According to Ocean Conservancy, “plastic has been found in 62% of all sea birds and in 100% of sea turtle species.” However, plastic is far from the only type of item dumped in the planet’s oceans. Here are some of the strangest finds during the annual Cleanup:

    • In the 2016 Cleanup 15 brooms were found. What a place to discard a broom!
    • Surprisingly, 56 toilets were salvaged during this year’s cleanup. Not just a seat or a tank – entire toilets.
    • Some beachgoers may have hungry – 8 microwaves were recorded alongside more common debris.
    • We know beaches are great places for photos, but that doesn’t explain why 5 selfie sticks were found in the ocean during the International Coastal Cleanup.
    • The future has arrived – 4 drones were collected among the 18 million pounds of trash.
    • We’re not sure what to make of this one – apparently, a piano was recovered from the ocean during the Cleanup.
    • Don’t get this frustrated if you get writer’s block – 2 typewriters were cataloged at different cleanups this year.

    These strange finds were just in 2016 alone. Over the years, many more bizarre items have been found during the annual event, including:

    • 72 barbecue grills
    • 139 televisions
    • 203 bicycles
    • 271 shopping carts
    • 64 umbrellas
    • 195 cell phones
    • 9,531 fireworks

    While this may seem humorous, the implications are tragic. Each year, the amount of plastic that enters our oceans weighs more than 30,000 elephants. To save our oceans we must stop using plastic bottles bags immediately. Switch to reusable water bottles and paper bags.

    Help out the effort to keep our oceans clean by volunteering at this year’s International Ocean Cleanup. Find an event near you here. By identifying the sources of debris and changing our habits we might be able to save our precious oceans.