From the Daily News - Halifax, Nova Scotia

Monday June 7, 1999

McNab's cleanup an adventure

By RICHARD DOOLEY -- The Daily News

Volunteers cleaning up the shores of McNab's Island are used to finding just about everything, including the kitchen sink.
Well, not quite a sink, but how about a nearly full bottle of dish detergent, a three-metre length of PVC piping, a fire extinguisher, oil cans, plastic cups and dishes, or glass bottles of every size, shape and colour.

"Anything you can imagine washes up on the island," said Mike Tilley. Tilley runs the McNab's Island Ferry and Nature Tours from Eastern Passage where some of the locals call him Captain Mike.

Tilley has even found a piece of the bulkhead of Swissair Flight 111 in a cove on the southern tip of McNab's Island. The plane crashed about 60 kilometres away at the mouth of St. Margaret's Bay last September. He turned the small piece of wreckage over to the RCMP.

Tilley has been involved with the Friends of McNab's Island Society for years and works hard to preserve what he says is one of Halifax Regional Municipality's best, but least known, natural resources.

"It's over 1,000 acres of diverse ecosystems, dune beaches, salt and fresh water marshes, and over 30 miles of hiking trails right on our doorstep," said Tilley.

But once or twice a year McNab's Island and neighbouring Lawlor's Island both require a good cleaning. The Friends of McNab's Island Society have organized 17 beach sweeps, collecting over 5,000 bags of trash since 1991. The sweep is sponsored by the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation, Parks Canada, the Nova Scotian Department of Natural Resources and Murphy's On the Water.

It's a diverse group wanting to preserve the island's natural and historic heritage.

Yesterday's beach sweep didn't turn up anything too unusual, but 170 people working most of the day piled close to 300 bags of garbage on the shore to be ferried to a dumpster in Eastern Passage.

Tilley has found exotic items on the shore. One year a toilet was found on the beach. Another time, an armed and loaded phosphorus smoke bomb was swept up. Military demolitions experts were called to dispose of it.

"And then there are the floatables," said volunteer Dave Phelps.

Beach sweepers routinely rake up plastic tampon applicators and condoms along with the larger bits of garbage.

"They turn up all over the place," said Tilley.

Organizer Catherine McCarthy said the annual sweeps help preserve the island's park-like quality.

"It's a park-designate and our goal is to make it look like a park," she said.

This year's sweep turned up a selection of used sonar buoys, which Tilley says are frequently found on the shore of the islands. The buoys are dropped by Sea King helicopters practising submarine detection.