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Divers aid Glen Cove beach cleanup, removing junk and hazards

As part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup, a group of scuba divers retrieved trash from off Glen Cove's Pryibil Beach on Sept. 16, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / David Olson)

More than a dozen people this summer have cut their feet on sharp objects off Glen Cove’s Pryibil Beach, city officials say.

On Saturday, more than two dozen volunteer scuba divers hauled out of Hempstead Harbor the type of material that could be among the culprits: Metal debris. Wood with nails sticking out. Bottles and aluminum cans.

It was part of the 32nd annual International Coastal Cleanup, taking place on shorelines across Long Island and around the world. The cleanups typically are on beaches, but for the first time this year in Glen Cove, a large group of scuba divers participated.

One of the divers, Leilani Elias, 53, of Bohemia, carried a metal detector underwater and located numerous pieces of metal near a wood pier.

Glen Cove’s chief of harbor patrol, John Testa, used a rope to hoist some of the heavy objects out of the water as he stood on the pier.

“You know the pipe we took out?” Elias asked from the water. “There are 30 more down there. It’s like pick-up sticks.”

Testa said the piping likely was either dumped into the harbor or the remnants of a part of the pier that collapsed during a major storm more than 25 years ago.

The underwater objects are dangerous to marine life as well as people. Jeannine Jennette, 56, of Westbury, found crabs — both living and dead — wrapped up in fishing line. Other divers found plastic bottles and caps.

“All the fish are eating this stuff and then they die with a bunch of plastic in them,” said Jennette, an instructor at Scuba Network Long Island in Carle Place, which coordinated the scuba volunteer effort with the Glen Cove Beautification Commission. “If people keep doing that, you won’t have any fish to catch.”

Two tires, a lawn chair, golf balls and an iPhone were among the rest of the underwater haul, along with the cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers and other trash that volunteers found on the beach itself.

Some of that material washes into the water. Leila Cullen, 10, of Glen Cove, said she sometimes brushes against trash while swimming.

“It’s gross to feel all that stuff . . . ,” Cullen said after collecting a bag of junk on the beach with her parents and 6-year-old brother. “If you come here and want to swim in it, and it’s dirty, it’s just like ‘ew, I don’t want to swim in this water.”

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