Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature International Coastal Cleanup Share Flipboard Email Print Blend Images - KidStock/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images Animals & Nature Marine Life Marine Life Profiles Marine Habitat Profiles Sharks Key Terms Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Jennifer Kennedy Marine Science Expert M.S., Resource Administration and Management, University of New Hampshire B.S., Natural Resources, Cornell University Jennifer Kennedy, M.S., is an environmental educator specializing in marine life. She serves as the executive director of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. our editorial process Jennifer Kennedy Updated January 10, 2020 The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) was started by the Ocean Conservancy in 1986 to engage volunteers in collecting marine debris from the world's waterways. During the cleanup, volunteers act as "citizen scientists," tallying the items they find on data cards. The information is used to identify the sources of marine debris, examine trends in debris items, and increase awareness about the threats of marine debris. Cleanups may be done along the shore, from watercraft, or underwater. Beach Cleanups The ocean covers 71% of the Earth. The ocean helps produce the water we drink and the air we breathe. It absorbs carbon dioxide and lessens the effect of global warming. It also produces food and recreation opportunities for millions of people. Despite its importance, the ocean is still not fully explored or understood. Trash in the ocean is prevalent (have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?), and can harm the health of the ocean and its marine life. One major source of trash in the ocean is garbage that washes off the beach and into the ocean, where it can choke or entangle marine life. During the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup, 648,014 volunteers cleaned 12,914 miles of coastline, resulting in the removal of 12,329,332 pounds of litter. Removing marine debris from the beach will lessen the potential for debris to damage marine life and ecosystems. How To Get Involved Cleanups occur throughout the US and in more than 90 countries worldwide. If you live within driving distance of an ocean, lake, or river, chances are that there's a cleanup going on near you. Or, you can start your own.