Tyres, rope, jandals and even a dead sea bird with fishing line wrapped around its neck were among the massive haul of waste picked up in the Pilot Bay waters yesterday.
More than 200kg of rubbish was picked up within one hour.
Put on by Dive Zone Tauranga and EnviroHub more than 60 volunteer divers and beach-cleaners swept the sands and waterways.
Divers were equipped with fluro catch bags and three safety boats were nearby to collect the rubbish.
Within 10 minutes of the divers entering the water, catch bags were filling up with one diver even bringing up a rusty old anchor.
Event organiser Liz Plank from Dive Zone Tauranga said the purpose of the event really hit home when divers found a dead seabird in the water with fishing line wrapped around its neck.
She said it was a prime example of why they were out there doing it.
Back on the shores, volunteer beach-cleaner Gaylene Sharp had already filled a whole bucket of rubbish within one hour of searching.
She said there was a profuse number of cigarette butts that filled her bucket.
Envirohub manager Laura Wagg said they had a large number of volunteers of all ages that helped to clean up.
One man managed to fill up four buckets in one hour, she said.
Cigarettes, broken glass and loads of bottle tops were the main items found, with the team filling up a number of very large buckets, she said.
Envirohub member Emma Woods said it was surprising finding bottle tops and glass en masse, as Pilot Bay is an alcohol-free area.
Wagg said it was concerning filling up as many buckets as they did, as Pilot Bay was often cleaned by locals anyway.
Two more beach clean-ups are scheduled in the next month, the first on the March 16 at Papamoa East and the second March 30 at Mt Drury.