It’s time to clean up our bays! Maryland Coastal Bay Program held its inaugural Marine Debris Plunder last Saturday, October 10th, yielding results beyond expectations!

With over 100 volunteers participating in a social distancing bay clean-up event held by land and by sea, in which participants collected 1.8 tons of trash.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the event turnout,” said MCBP Outreach and Marketing Coordinator Sandi Smith. “Typically clean-ups are the day of and folks come out, register and go, but since clean-up turnouts are usually close to 100 coming in the day of registration, we couldn’t conduct business as usual and required people to register in advance. Getting advanced commitments are always a little tricky.”

Coastal Bays recruited a Jack Sparrow impersonator, Trey Emmerson, to conduct a virtual captain’s meeting and then emcee at the weigh-in with D.J. Wax. Captain Jack with his Theta Chi pirates from Salisbury University greeted participants to grab their loot from vehicles and boats and weigh it for competition awards.

As this is an inaugural event, Coastal Bays is still working out the awards as things did no go as anticipated and the competition amongst some of the competitors was fierce and admirably productive in removing debris from the bays.

“Everyone was a winner,” remarked Smith, “each team that brought their loot exclaimed their excitement and eagerness to participate in another event, which we are planning on for next year.”

This event was held during crabbing season so those that conducted their search by sea were provided with specific instructions and the Natural Resource Police was out to make sure live traps were not tampered. There was no question that every trap collected was a ghost pot. Coordinates were provided to a few that were in question and folks will be going out next weekend to confirm if they are live or ghost.

Highlights include the fierce friendly competition amongst two family teams. The Odachowskis, team Water Damage, and the Howells, team Howells. Each were determined to take first for the most weight. Both teams charged through the waters on boat making three separate trips, with their respective sons at the helm. The Odachowskis were in the lead until the very end of the day when the Howells pulled in with a 350-pound piece of metal discovered under the Route 90 bridge. The Odachowskis hands down found the most ghost pots.

The Ocean City Power Squadron had two teams and Ocean Pines Environment and Natural Assets Committee had a team that pulled additional abandoned pots. Special mention goes out to the Theta Chi Brothers and Environmental Club at Salisbury University as they were assigned a very nasty area and plundered with great success. And the Ramnarian family was on a mission pulling several large tires out of St. Martin River. Team Depot, staff from Home Depot, also pulled several ghost pots.

Bluewater Properties and Pure Lure co-sponsored the event and recruited a large on land crew, and along with several family teams, pillaged the land yielding a ton of debris.

This event was made possible through grant funding from Maryland Forever, Keep Maryland Beautiful. A second annual will be announced next year as this event is focused around low tide times. For more information contact There will be a video on the event which will be posted on the website once it has been completed.