“Even apex predators like sharks are vulnerable to plastic pollution”


Washington, DC – To kick off Shark Week and help protect sharks’ ocean habitat, Ocean Conservancy has partnered with Discovery Channel to host shoreline cleanups on Saturday, July 27 in three major U.S. cities. Open to the public, cleanup events will be held in Knoxville, New York and Santa Monica in partnership with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) coordinators in those areas. Shark Week kicks off the following evening, July 28, on Discovery Channel.


“Sea turtles, whales, and even seabirds like albatrosses are often used as the ‘poster child’ of the ocean plastic crisis,” said Nicholas Mallos, senior director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program. “The reality, though, is that even apex predators like sharks are vulnerable to plastic pollution.”


Ocean plastic has been found everywhere from the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the most remote Arctic ice, impacting more than 800 species. A study recently published in the journal Endangered Species Research shows that dozens of shark species are susceptible to entanglement in plastic fishing line, straps, and other debris.


“One of the easiest ways to help protect sharks and other incredible ocean animals—and to really see the ocean plastic problem for yourself—is to participate in a cleanup,” said Allison Schutes, director of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. “The Shark Week cleanups are a wonderful opportunity to connect Shark Week fans to our on-the-ground conservation efforts. Our hope is that participants become year-round ocean advocates and join us again in the fall for the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup.”


This is the second year that Ocean Conservancy and Discovery Channel have partnered during Shark Week. As with all ICC events, volunteers at the Shark Week cleanups will not only collect trash but also log their findings using Ocean Conservancy’s Webby Award-nominated smartphone app Clean Swell. The data will be uploaded to Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index—the world’s most comprehensive database of marine debris.


Ocean Conservancy has been mobilizing the International Coastal Cleanup since 1986, with millions of volunteers collecting more than 300 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the world. In 2017, for the first time ever, all of the top-ten items collected by volunteers were made of plastic—items like cigarette butts (which contain plastic filters), beverage bottles, bottle caps, grocery bags, and food wrappers.


To sign up for a Shark Week cleanup, visit https://oceanconservancy.org/shark-week-2019. To participate in this year’s annual International Coastal Cleanup—to be held on September 21 at locations all around the world—visit www.signuptocleanup.org.