Beach clean up

Posted on: November 24th, 2017

beach, clean up, environmental research

So… what are seven guys with seven surfboards, two speed boats, a bunch fishing rods, spire guns, tents, sleeping bags and of course a few of those scientific clipboards with the little strings attaching a pen to them, doing out on the exposed West Coast of the Pacific Ocean in basically the middle of nowhere???

Cleaning up all the garbage along the B.C. coast line that's what; at least that's the ultimate goal anyways!

I received an invite from Renny Talbot, marine biologist and founder of Rugged Coast Research Society (RCRS) to join him and his crew on a six-day beach garbage survey. We would plot a course starting just north of Rivers Inlet and head north selecting beaches along the way that we thought might be collecting garbage washing in from the Pacific. We would go ashore and walk the beach to survey, record and categorize all the debris and waste washed up on shore.


adventure photographer, terrace bc, north-east photographer, beach clean up

beach clean up, debris, ocean plastic, RCRS

Lets all face it, our oceans are a mess and we want to clean up our beaches, right?  Right; but first we need to know what it would take to do several mass clean- ups along the coast, what’s out there and what would be involved in organizing a clean-up; so Rugged Coast Research set out to do just that.

beach clean up,  talon gillis photography, adeventer

Renny made one comment on the trip; I can’t remember exactly, but it was something like this, “It feels good to be using all of the skills and the knowledge I’ve developed over the years doing outdoor sports and recreation to go out and do something beneficial for humans and our planet”. 

The crew consisted of fairly young, active outdoorsmen type guys who were all surfers. We all agreed with Renny in his description of surfing as a sport that can sometimes be considered a selfish pursuit. As healthy and as happy of an activity as it is, I know I some times struggle with conflicting feelings myself on this matter, but guilt aside, in this case the only logical way to access the beach to do an environmental beach clean up survey was to surf our way into shore.

surfing, north coast, RCRS, pacific north west, Beach, BC coast beach clean up,

Surf’s up… right; well yes, but the West Coast is open ocean and you can’t just land your boat on the exposed beaches because the waves are too big. The best way to access the shore (without a helicopter of course) is to anchor the boat and surf your way in.  So, that’s what we did; collected our data and paddled back out to the boat to move on to the next beach. We built camps up and down the coast as we travelled along our course, we fished for our dinners and navigated our boats in and out of tricky bays and rock piles.  Like Renny said, “It’s a great feeling to use the skills we’ve developed over the years not only to be doing what we love, but using them for the greater good! 

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clean water, waterfall

This piece about the expedition and the photo collection are just a few of the observations that I made as a photographer along for the ride. To get into all the data on what we found, and the overall plans and logistics we discussed for a mass beach clean up while we were sitting around the campfire at night would be better suited for another peace of writing.  This is just a quick glance at a massive problem and the beginning of a solution.  If your interested in what we discovered and would like more information or if you would like to get involved you can head over to the Rugged Coat Research Society webpage.


I’ll conclude with this; there is a small passionate group out there, surfers and outdoorsmen & women at heart, who are being proactive and taking action to clean up our ocean. If you were to ask any of us about it we might just say something like this; “Ya dude…. it just feels good”.