Steve Jasiecki has noticed some concerning changes in the ocean.
The avid diver has seen plastic cups wash up on the beaches of Nassau in the Bahamas. In Palau, an island country in the western Pacific Ocean, he saw a large hermit crab using an old can as a shell. He has seen trash build up in the back bays of Ventnor during high tide.
And so the 60-year-old Margate resident and Surfrider Foundation volunteer will join more than 100 other New Jersey residents taking two buses — and one canoe — to Washington, D.C., on Saturday for a March for the Ocean protest.
During the 1.9-mile march around the White House, demonstrators plan to advocate for clean water and voice their opposition to offshore oil drilling and plastic pollution.
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“We all love the Jersey Shore. Everybody loves the ocean. It’s a huge part of our economy. People’s livelihoods depend upon it. It’s full of magnificent and wonderful animals. This is really something that’s too important to us to let it be at risk,” said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society.
The Littoral Society and Clean Ocean Action, both based in Highlands, Monmouth County, have partnered with the Surfrider Foundation’s South Jersey and Jersey Shore Chapters to provide free bus rides to the march. The two “Buses for Big Blue” will leave the rest area at Exit 100 on the Garden State Parkway at 6 a.m. and then pick up more demonstrators at the rest area in Galloway Township before heading to Washington.
The buses will leave the march at 4 p.m. Saturday and return to the same two locations.
More than 100 demonstrators, all of whom plan to wear blue, had reserved seats as of Tuesday.
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Surfrider South Jersey volunteer Meaghan Netherby, of Marmora, said she is marching because she wants to protect the oceans and beaches she grew up loving.
“There are many threats facing our ocean today. I am particularly concerned about plastic pollution. I’m marching because I believe pro-ocean legislation is necessary to effectively address this growing crisis. I want my lawmakers to know where I stand on these issues so they can better represent my interests,” Netherby wrote in an email.
While many activists will hit the road, long-distance paddler and Surfrider volunteer Margo Pellegrino is taking the scenic route. The 51-year-old from Medford Lakes, Burlington County, launched her outrigger canoe from Atlantic City on May 19 to start an 18-day paddle to Washington.
Demonstrators hope to greet Pellegrino at the Anacostia River on Friday and then participate in a sign-making party.
The march will include a rally at the Washington Monument, speeches, musical performances and a pod of inflatable whales from 15 to 87 feet long, the event’s Facebook page said.
“I’m hoping to see a lot of people who are in solidarity with trying to protect the ocean and do the right things,” Jasiecki said.