18,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean.
276 species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation focused on the health of our marine environment, and coordinates the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities, organisations and agencies around the country monitoring the impacts of marine debris along their stretch of coastline.
In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is one of the great gods, the god of the ocean. He is the son of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, Sky and Earth. Tangaroa is the father of many sea creatures and his breaths are the tides. Tangaroa made laws to protect the ocean and its sea creatures "Tiaki mai i ahau, maku ano koe e tiaki"... If you look after me, then I will look after you..."
The organisation was named Tangaroa Blue Foundation to highlight the importance of protecting our oceans and creating programs and resources to help communities look after their local coastal environment.
Combining science and helping the environment with a trip to the beach is a great way to spend a day at school. Year 3 students at Tathra were lucky enough to be part of a program that did just that.
'Marine Debris – Clean Up Your Act' is a new school program run by the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre (SCMDC) as part of a grant received from the IMB Community Foundation. The program was piloted with a year 3 class from Tathra Public School in terms 3 and 4.
As part of the program students adopted a section of their local beach to clean up. Tathra students chose Tathra Beach near the Surf Lifesaving Club. Students spent and hour scouring the beach for every little bit of rubbish and were still cleaning on the walk back to school.
It's really hot up here in the tropics and we are all heading down to our nearest creek and swimming hole to cool off - we are also on the verge of our monsoon wet season starting. So if you are heading out for a swim, please make sure you take all your litter home with you - as soon as the rains start it will take all the rubbish that people have just left at these beautiful cool oasis straight to the ocean and into the Great Barrier Reef.
A huge thanks to Tangaroa Blue volunteer Suz Garrett, who spent her Saturday morning collecting 751 pieces of litter from South Mossman Creek - stopping all this junk from ending up in our ocean as soon as the rains start and all stormwater drains, creeks and rivers get their first flush of the season! The included 22 plastic drink bottles, 15 plastic shopping bags, 94 plastic food packages, 52 sanitary items (toilet paper and nappies), 28 beer bottles, 101 aluminium cans and 67 cardboard food packs.
The Southern foreshore of Kincumber Creek has never looked better thanks to the incredible efforts of The Glen crew. Always up for a challenge and some hard work, the team of 12 spent their morning scouring the thick saltmarsh grass and muddy mangroves for anything that was not meant to be there.
A curious 250 tennis balls were found during the clean up, along with a mysterious locked suitcase, approximately 1300 plastic water bottles, and the all too familiar oyster related debris.
The 2014 Australian Marine Debris Initiative Conference was held in Cairns from the 4th - 6th December. Tangaroa Blue crew members, volunteers, Indigenous Land & Sea Rangers, Government agencies and other partner organisations came together to network and review marine debris activities that had been taking place around the country during the year, and make a plan for 2015.
Partners were given the opportunity to present on the work that they are doing in relation to marine debris mitigation and how they are contributing to the bigger picture. A large part of the workshop was focused on Source Reduction Plans as a means of stopping debris from entering the marine system in the first place.