While crews clean perform a morning cleanup of garbage left on the sand after the HSBC Celebration of Light, a significant amount of it ends up in the sea.
Christianne Wilhelmson, managing director of the Georgia Strait Alliance, said that garbage is a threat to marine life.
“Everything from plastic bags to bits of plastic that animals don’t realize aren’t food, over time these things break down,” Wilhelmson said.
“They get into small enough pieces and animals can swallow them, and they can literally die with their bellies full of garbage.”
While a electrical storm kept crowds in check on Saturday night, the rain helped wash garbage into the ocean.
Wilhelmson said that even cigarette butts are harmful. “Animals know what they want to eat but sometimes they may go for something and a cigarette butt is next to it and they’ll chomp on it,” she said.
“It’s not that they’re stupid animals, they’re obviously highly in tune with their environment, but little bits of (garbage) might look like a fish or algae or whatever their food source is.”