This Long Beach crew spends its free time cleaning up ocean trash on the ‘Glove Boat’

On a cruise through Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor, Long Beach resident Mimi Masher spotted a floating shoe and quickly swooped it in a net.

“I got it!” she shouted. “I got another shoe.”

The shoe is just one of many odd items and hundreds of pounds of ocean trash collected by the “Glove Boat” since it launched its trash cruises in Long Beach waters earlier this year.

Named as an homage to the 1970s TV show “The Love Boat,” the Glove Boat was birthed by friends and environmentalists Masher (the cruise director), Matt Sersion (the captain) and his wife Jenny after the trio couldn’t stop scooping up trash when they ventured out for whale watching rides on the Sersions’ 17-foot Boston Whaler. One of their first weird hauls was a floating red boxing glove.

The group launched a gofundme page and began offering monthly trash cruises as a way to educate people on single-use plastics while cleaning the ocean one net at a time. Sersion said they’re hoping to partner with local businesses, environmental groups and other boat owners for large-scale monthly cleanups.

“We don’t have that much space on the boat so it would be great if we could get more people involved,” Sersion said.

Mimi Masher empties her net and places the trash in a bag as the duo picks up trash out of the Long Beach harbor as they volunteer their free time to pick up trash out of the water in Long Beach Monday, July 29, 2019. Photo by Thomas Cordova.

On a recent Monday, the Glove Boat cruised around Shoreline Village collecting trash near the boat slips. Common items included red plastic straws, empty bottles, clothing, wrappers and lots of chip bags.

“It’s just really sad what you find out here,” said Masher, as she hauled a water-logged seat cushion out of the water.

The city sweeps the water daily, but it can’t get everything.

“There’s so much just under the surface that you don’t even see,” said Sersion.

A small crowd gathered to watch as the crew scooped beer bottles, Starbucks cups and an orange traffic cone in the water near the Aquarium of the Pacific.

“Thanks and quit using single-use plastics!” Sersion shouted to the crowd.

Reducing plastic waste is especially important now that the United States is no longer exporting its plastic recyclables to China, Sersion added. The new policy from China has left many cities, including Long Beach, with an influx of plastic.

Long Beach is in the early stages of a “zero waste” plan to drastically reduce its waste, but it’s up to residents to reduce the amount of plastic before it goes into the oceans and landfills, he said.

“Everybody can do their part to help,” said Sersion, 48, a professional photographer.

For Masher, a 42-year-old event planner and roller-skate instructor, cleaning up trash is a passion… and a compulsion.

“I want to get everything,” she said, with a laugh. “If I could sweep every alley I would.”

For more info on the Glove Boat visit their Facebook page.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].