SAN LEANDRO — As a child, Jon Moohey used to walk along the shoreline collecting tide-delivered treasures — in particular, he loved searching for old bottles and glass, naturally sandblasted to a frosted finish.
Reminiscing, he went to the same stretch of beach last month and found a whole new breed of bottles — capped plastic vessels containing what he believes is urine.
"Look at this," he said on Wednesday, holding up a soda bottle half-filled with an opaque brownish-yellow fluid. "That's a Coke bottle, but that's definitely pee in there."
A half-dozen similarly filled receptacles were found during a half-hour search of the area.
Moohey, 43, believes the source is drivers on Bay Area bridges. He speculates that on the road, they relieve themselves into the makeshift urinals, then pitch them out the window. Some land in the Bay, and some of those finally end up on the driftwood- and kelp-clogged beach off the beaten path north of Robert's Landing.
California Highway Patrol officials said they've heard of the problem of people throwing such things to the roadside, but it's not something they see too often in the Bay Area.
"We have so many offramps," said Sgt. Steve Perea of the Castro Valley CHP. "There's no reason people would have to do that around here."
But the bottles do wash up.
"It's one of many different types of waste that is collected," said San Leandro public works Director Michael Bakaldin. "I've personally found one every once in a while, but I'm not aware of it being an overwhelming problem."
Bakaldin said city crews generally maintain the area around footpaths and trails, but they don't have the manpower to go off-track and between rocks. That's what biannual coastal cleanup events are for. The next one takes place Saturday.
However, Amy Alton Ricard of Save the Bay said volunteers needn't fear they will have to handle biohazardous material.
"They are absolutely not supposed to touch anything like that," she said. "We wouldn't ever ask volunteers to pick up anything they weren't comfortable with or felt was unsanitary."
She said professionals with biohazard boxes will be on hand to collect such items, along with syringes and other dangerous objects.
Roadside containers of urine have been a documented problem on long stretches of roadway without rest stops.
A Washington state ad campaign from 2002 featured an illustration of a milk jug, the bottom third full of yellow fluid. The slogan: "Okay, One last time: This is not a urinal."
Bakaldin said some of the San Leandro bottles may be coming from a homeless population that is in the area, and added that he's heard such waste containers have been a problem at the Port of Oakland when truckers leave them behind.
"If they get into the water (at the Port), I could see them drifting up here," he said.
CHP spokeswoman Cristina Tagle said anyone caught littering in such a manner faces a fine of $250 to $1,000.
Reach Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473.
Del Valle Regional Park, end of Del Valle Road, Livermore. More info: 510-544-2515.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Reservations required: call 510-792-0222, ext. 43.
Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, Hayward/Union City. Reservations are required. Please complete our online registration form for yourself or a group at www.savesfbay.org/bayevents. Contact Natalie LaVan at 510-452-9261 x109.
Hayward Regional Shoreline, end of West Winton Avenue in Hayward.
Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, off Oakport Street between 66th and Lesser St. in Oakland. Meet at the Oakport Soccer Field about 1/4 mile north of 66th Street on Oakport. 510-544-2515.
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, off intersection of Middle Harbor Road and 7th Street in Oakland. 510 544-2515.
Robert Crown Memorial State Beach, Alameda. Meet on the beach side of the intersection of Park Street and Shoreline Drive in Alameda. Reservations required: call 510-747-7529.
San Leandro Marina, end of Lewelling Boulevard in San Leandro. 510-577-3490.
Shoreline Interpretive Center, Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, west end of Breakwater Drive in Hayward. 510-544-2515.