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Dig Imperial Beach

Lifeguards Remove Hazardous Debris

Nov 12, 2014 07:56PM ● By Paul Spear

On Monday morning Imperial Beach Lifeguards received a call from a resident on Seacoast Drive for a large wooden object moving rapidly into the Tijuana Estuary (Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve)’s north channel that parallels Seacoast Drive. Lifeguards investigated the call and were unable to determine what the object was due to its location inside the estuary. To rule out any possible smuggling, United States Border Patrol were called and requested helicopter air support for a top view. Lifeguards radioed San Diego County Sheriff's Department’s ASTREA helicopter do a fly over to identify this debris. The pilot identified it as possible large flotsam - piece of a boat deck 14’x14’. At 2 PM with tide moving to low, the flotsam began floating south with the tidal currents and became stuck in the salt marsh vegetation about a quarter mile north of the river mouth.

Lifeguards contacted the Tijuana Estuary Fish and Wildlife Manager about the flotsam and were informed that the debris had been stuck in the estuary for the last six years. Fish and Wildlife were hoping to remove the flotsam from the Estuary and asked for Lifeguard assistance in towing it to the beach near the river mouth.

On Wednesday’s high tide, Lifeguards were able to successfully free the flotsam and tow it the beach with their personal watercraft. Lifeguards then dragged it up on to the dry beach with the winch on their truck. The flotsam looked to be a deck of a bait barge.

Estuary staff plans to demolish and remove the debris in the next week. Had it not been removed, the flotsam could have become lodged in one of the smaller estuary channels blocking tidal water flow, or it could have drifted back into the ocean becoming a navigational hazard. This was a great opportunity for 
lifeguards to practice open water towing, while supporting and coordinating with other local agencies (Border Patrol, Sheriff and Fish and Wildlife).

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