POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. — The bizarre trash items plucked from New Jersey's beaches last year might be enough to cause nausea or heartburn. But don't worry, a bottle of Pepto-Bismol was among the items collected.
Also plucked from the sands of the state's beaches were a lawn mower, a saw blade, an empty medical marijuana container, a strobe light, a bird cage and two fire extinguishers.
Other items included a plastic statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, a cheese grater, and a human tooth in a box.
Aside from the bizarre items, Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action said Thursday most of the trash consisted of plastics, which can kill fish and animals that swallow it.
"An emaciated sperm whale washed up dead on a beach in Spain recently," she said. "The once majestic ocean-cruising youngster looked like a burnt pancake. He died a tragic and painful death feeding on 64 pounds of plastic he thought was food. Countless others have died the same way, or by entanglement of plastics or other man-made products. We humans are wholly responsible for their deaths, and it is on us to do something about it."
The groups sponsors beach sweeps along New Jersey's entire ocean and bay coastline in spring and fall each year, and painstakingly catalogs everything collected. In 2017, they picked up nearly 374,000 pieces of trash, 84 percent of which was plastic or plastic foam; 66 percent of the trash collected was discarded single-use items.
The trash is either left behind by beachgoers or washed ashore from sewage systems that overflow during heavy rainstorms.
Some of the more unusual items included enough to stock a small medical clinic: blood vials, dentures, a knee brace, pill bottles, a surgical mask, and a bottle of eye drops.
Good grooming may have been on the minds of Jersey beachgoers last summer. Items found on the sand included acrylic nails, a bag of costume jewelry, a belly ring, a fake mustache, a mascara brush, a mermaid purse, nail clippers, perfume samples and shampoo pump.
There also was enough to stock a nightmare kitchen: a full jug of milk, presumably WAY past its expiration date, a jar of honey, a coffee maker, an oregano jar, zucchini and raw chicken pieces.
There were 19 car batteries found on the sand; 204 tires, and 43 large 55-gallon drums.
The sweeps also continued to show disturbing evidence of sewage making its way into waterways — and later onto beaches — by the presence of items presumably flushed down the toilet, including condoms (361, up 13 percent from two years ago), and tampon applicators (4,080, up 16 percent in two years.)