Plastic shotgun wads show up in great numbers along waterways and shorelines throughout the world. Projected from shotgun barrels – the plastic wads are shot into marshes or over water where they are difficult to retrieve. Heavy rains and high tides cause the wads to float to the sea where they remain until picked up and sometimes photographed by concerned citizens. The wads have the ability to travel great distances in water, following ocean currents, and have been collected by beachcombers, dog walkers and sports enthusiasts far from their source.

View our Shotgun Wad Watcher live mapping tool.

For years Vancouver Island residents and official SFVI beach cleanup crews have been finding shotgun wads on our local beaches. They are becoming more and more prevalent and environmental groups everywhere are taking notice and taking action.

Through word-of-mouth efforts, beachgoers have posted – and continue to post – photos of the plastic shotgun wads (also known as “shot cups”) they pick up on their local beaches. Volunteers have mapped shotgun wads along the entire coastline of Great Britain and on nearly every shoreline in the United States, including the Great Lakes. Wads have been found on beaches in the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Finland, and Greece.

No Silver Bullet: Addressing Shotgun Wad Debris in San Francisco Bay

An article by the NOAA Marine Debris Program published April 28, 2020 addressing the shotgun debris being found in San Francisco Bay

Read Article

Video: Tracking Impacts of Shotguns on Shorelines

San Francisco Chapter Program Lead Anna Kauffman presents the shotgun wad watching initiative at the Contra Costa Watershed Symposium [Starts at 26:22]

Watch Video

San Francisco Examiner reports on alternatives to plastic wads.

“Hunters shoot over water and deem the wads, which land between 20 to 40 yards away, irretrievable. Then the tides flush them out and they turn up on The City’s Beaches.”

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January 2019 Surfrider’s Shotgun Wad Watcher goes live.

Calling all you citizen scientists, please join us. Next time you find wads on the beach, take a picture and post it to our Shotgun Wad Data Collection.

Project Lead

Gemma Tarling - Shotgun Wads