The catch of the day at Sands Point Preserve wasn't pretty Saturday, but afterward the beach looked better.
Donning rubber gloves and carrying black plastic garbage bags, about 30 volunteers scrubbed the public North Shore beach as part of the American Littoral Society's New York State Beach Cleanup.
"Any garbage that gets thrown out washes up on somebody's shore," said Eric Powers, a wildlife educator who taught a half-dozen children about marine life after the beach scrubbing.
Along a 1-mile stretch of beach, volunteers took up assorted garbage, including plastic bottles, foam takeout containers, grocery bags, cigarette butts and other stuff no one wants to see between their toes.
"It's a shame people leaving that much garbage behind," said Deidre McManus, 47, a high school teacher from Floral Park who, with her son Keith, 16, checked off their finds on forms. Data collected Saturday were compiled for use by the Ocean Conservancy, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that coordinates international cleanups and advocates cleaner oceans.
Michael Madia, 29, an accountant from Forest Hills, said this was his first beach scouring, but he plans to continue when he comes to the shore.
"When I come here, I'll definitely bring a bag," Madia said.
In New York, the cleanups this year include 22 sites in Nassau County and 61 in Suffolk County. Most are scheduled for Sept. 20, but a few were scheduled on other days.
Last year, 5,954 volunteers across New York picked up 57,604 pounds of debris along 173 miles of shoreline, according to nysbeachcleanup.org, a website run by the Northeast chapter of the American Littoral Society.
Pointing to a large chunk of metal with gears that had been in the water long enough to gather barnacles, Sands Point Preserve executive director Jean-Marie Posner said big storms help demonstrate the problem of ocean dumping when debris washes ashore. "This has traveled here -- it wasn't dumped here," Posner said.
People take pride in and care for a beach that's well maintained -- and, Posner said, it's also safer. "It's helping control the problem," she said. "When kids are on the beach, it lessens the chance of them getting hurt."