ATLANTIC CITY — Zack Pennock stepped in a kayak in the bay Saturday morning, stuck his hand into the water and pulled out a small, brown and rusted bicycle.
The 13-year-old from Egg Harbor Township was volunteering with his mom, Sue Pennock, near the bay on Fairmount Avenue to take part in a community cleanup along Absecon Island.
The goal was to remove trash and debris that piled up in the back bays.
“I see the litter around the neighborhood,” said Sue Pennock, a teacher at Sovereign Avenue School. “Eventually, it will make its way to the water.”
The mother-son duo were among dozens of volunteers at the three-hour event Saturday for International Coastal Cleanup Day in eight locations in Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
In its second year, organizers said they hoped to see as much progress as there was at last year’s event, which brought more than 170 volunteers to pick up about 14,000 pounds of trash.
“Ninety percent of all the trash and litter that enters the ocean comes from land-based sources,” said Monica Coffey, a Sustainable Downbeach organizer. “This is to bring attention and awareness.”
Some volunteers went out to the waters on boats or kayaks, while others wore tall boots and worked from the shore using trash pickers, gloves and plastic bags.
Organizers gathered supplies to go out into the bays to retrieve some of the larger items with boats.
Near the Atlantic City-Brigantine Connector, members of the Atlantic City Fire Department picked up trash scattered throughout the mud.
By 11 a.m., they had filled about a dozen bags.
The Atlantic County Utilities Authority, which provided the supplies, will weigh the trash.
The debris picked up Saturday included cans, bottles, plastic bags, a cassette tape, fishing gear and some syringes.
Coffey said the winds and tides bring the debris into different areas of land and waters, but some of the pollution is ingested by marine life, which humans eat.
“This is the best way to sensitize people to the issue,” she said.
Eventually, Coffey said, she hoped to see the cleanups become county-wide instead of just along the island.
Beth Kwart, another organizer and chairwoman of the Surfrider Foundation South Jersey Chapter, said the organization holds cleanups for about eight months out of the year.
Kwart said she hopes the cleanups spread awareness about what people can start using less of — such as plastic bottles and bags, straws and balloons.
“We need to keep this stuff from getting into the ocean,” she said. “But it’s also a great way to show people what’s out there.”