Robson Bight Beach Clean Up

The first ever Robson Bight beach clean up was a success. We had 4 boats, 22 crew, 44 gloves, hundreds of garbage bags and plenty of energy & enthusiasm to get all the garbage of out the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve!

We started @07:30 in the morning to catch the low tide so we could be sure to collect every last piece of garbage on the beaches in the reserve. By 11:00 we were pleasantly surprised to find that most of the shoreline within the reserve contained relatively little garbage for the amount of land covered. However, there was one beach that acted as a catchment for the area and it contained the majority of the garbage collected inside the reserve.  Once we had that beach cleaned and since we were still geared up and keen to clean we headed over to the Boat Bay Conservancy to see what we could find.  This time we felt fairly daunted to see what was in store for us…the entire beach acts as a catchment for the area of Johnstone Strait and therefore we found tons of garbage! So we spent the second half of our day trying to collect as much debris from these beaches as we could. With the boats loaded we headed off to the dump with all the interesting treasures we found.

It’s kind of ironic to call the beach clean up a success when the goal is to collect as much garbage as possible. Getting the garbage off the beaches means less of a threat to the marine life that inhabit our local waters. Marine debris can pose a threat to birds and mammals that accidentally consume garbage, as they may think it is food or may become entangled in the ropes & lines.  In fact BC elephant seals have been recovered with Styrofoam in their stomachs and a grey whale recently recovered in Washington State had gallons of marine debris in its stomach, including a golf ball and sweat pants.

We left feeling satisfied and frustrated as we had cleaned a few of our local Northern Vancouver Island beaches, yet we had only scratched the surface.   At least we were able to clear the beaches of debris within the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, which was established in 1982 to protect killer whale critical habitat (

Please remember it is important to clean up the garbage on any beach so next time your strolling along the beach pick up a piece or two of garbage, or maybe plan a beach clean up in your neighbourhood (, every little bit helps!

Garbage items collected:

  • TONS of Styrofoam
  • Rope, rope & more rope!!
  • Plastic bottles
  • Tires (lots)
  • Pieces of docks (nails, boards)
  • Plastic crates
  • Plastic buckets
  • Plastic barrels
  • Buoys
  • Anchor chain
  • PVC pipe
  • Plastic bags
  • Sling shot
  • HUGE plastic pipe full of more Styrofoam!
  • Shoes, flip flops, sandals
  • Tennis balls
  • Lawn chair
  • Tarps
  • Plastic, plastic and more plastic….little bits of plastic everywhere: bottle lids, lighters, bike light, glow stick, baby soother,

There was a recent study done, by the University of St. Andrews, Oceans Initiative (, Raincoast Conservation Foundation (, and Environment Canada estimating the amount of garbage that is present in the ocean along the BC coast. Unfortunately there was a lot! They estimated that the inshore waters of the BC coast have approx 36,000 pieces of garbage. The most common items were Styrofoam, plastic bottles and plastic ‘grocery’ bags. Read more about it here:

One last note of interest: there is a new application for your phone where you can report any debris you see on the beaches. What a great idea! Give it a try:

Many thanks to all the volunteers that helped us today!!!

Orcella Expeditions (

  • Jim Borrowmon
  • Wayne Garton
  • Mary Borrowmon

Pacific Orca Society ( AND

  • Helena Symonds
  • Paul Spong
  • Leah Robinson
  • Mike Durban

Cetus Research & Conservation Society:

  • Nic Dedeluk
  • Nicole Koshure
  • Marie Fournier
  • Jake and Yvonne Etzhorn

Young Naturalists Club of BC, Northern Vancouver Island (

  • Adrian Walker-Burroughs
  • Andrew Mitchell
  • Claire Jones

Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) (

  • Jackie Hildering
  • Christie McMillan
  • Jared Towers

Namgis First Nation (

  • Ernest Alfred

Telegraph Cove Resort (

  • Gordie Graham

BC Parks Staff (

  • Jim Spowart
  • Peter Hehl
  • Zsana Tulscik

Many thanks to BC Parks for support through a ‘Communities for Conservation’ grant to assist with costs associated with the clean up.

Other Links of Interest:

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