This guest post is from our mates over at cleancoastcollective. They are on a mission around Australia cleaning up marine debris. The amount of rubbish they are finding in places is crazy, ranging from huge ghost nets to millions of pieces of micro plastics scattered across beaches. Take a read below and check out their crowd funding effort that is under way to fund a rubbish clean up mission to Cape York in the far north of Australia. They are a bee’s whisker away from their $20,000 tipping point and every little extra bit of coin will help them get across the line whilst supporting a really worth while initiative; so consider tipping in some funds if you are able (edit: they reached their tipping point today but getting the whole project fully funded would be great!).
Trashed in Cape York by Clean Coast Collective
We had been told by all of our friends that if we wanted to see serious amounts of marine debris, we needed to venture to the Cape York Peninsula. We were also warned that the experience might be incredibly disheartening.
The journey up to the Cape York Peninsula is quite the expedition – hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads, riddled with corrugations and no mobile reception. Sure, you can go without Facebook for a few hours, but if you break down on these roads, you’d better hope the next person passing you is either a mechanic or a tow truck, because there isn’t a great deal of options if you get stuck.
We started our Cape experience in Weipa, situated on the West side of the Peninsula, where the Napranam Rangers let us join them for a ghost net clean up at Pennefather Beach.
The Napranam Rangers regularly patrol this beach and collect tonnes of ghost nets (often rescuing tangled turtles and birds at the same time) as well as marine debris.
These guys do amazing work. Ghost nets are extremely difficult to remove as they become tangled around huge pieces of driftwood and buried under heavy sand. The first net we removed took a few hours to haul out and required the assistance of both a troopy with snatch strap attached and a hydraulic lifter. Besides the ghost nets, the rubbish on these beaches is overwhelming and ranges from plastic bottles, thongs and gas bottles, to oil drums.
The Rangers told us that they often collect tonnes of rubbish across just a few hundred meters of Pennefather beach, just to watch more float back in.
There is so much marine wildlife that is at risk around these remote beaches. We saw crocodiles, hundreds of shorebirds, turtle nests and huge schools of fish.
We then ventured right up to the very tip of the Australian coastline to a beach on the Eastern side of the Peninsula called Nanthau. As expected, Nanthau was also covered in trash. We grabbed our bags and started cleaning up, expecting it to take a few hours to cover off the whole beach. After an hour or so, we had covered just 150 meters and had filled all of our bags. We barely made a scratch. There was simply too much rubbish. We left Nanthau, defeated.
Our final stop in the Peninsula was Captain Billy Landing, situated 30 kilometres off the main ‘highway’ on the Eastern side of the Peninsula. This location is characterised by isolation, a long stretch of beach and a resident croc. It gets hot here, so we set off at sunrise down the beach. The plan: hike a few kilometres and then beach comb all the way back to camp. But again, the amount of rubbish was too much for us.
We tried to rig up a tarp with ropes to drag our haul back to camp, but it was too heavy.
It was the middle of the day, we were still a few kilometres from camp and running low on water. We carried what we could, and came back for the rest in the afternoon, carrying bags over our shoulders and dragging others in sleds made from bread crates covered in barnacles.
We left Captain Billy Landing defeated and sore.
We expected a lot of rubbish in the Cape, but we never could have imagined the extent of the marine debris that we found. It was too much for the two of us with only one car. To tackle the problem we need more hands.
We want to take 10 young influential people to the Cape to do a massive clean up, removing tonnes of marine debris and raising awareness about the issue. This group will be the Trash Tribe.
With no surf and no swimming (unless you fancy out-swimming a croc), the Cape is a fisherman’s dream. Remote beaches with crystal blue waters brimming with fish. Marine debris threatens the marine wildlife of this paradise, including the fish stocks.
It would be a shame to see it go to waste.
Please check out the video and campaign at www.startsomegood.com/trashtribe and pledge your support.