Marine Debris

18,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean.

633 species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris.

Over 75% of what is removed from our beaches is made of plastic.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is an Australian-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris, one of the major environmental issues worldwide. But if all we do is clean-up, that is all we will ever do.

To successfully solve the problem, the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) was created, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities and organisations that contribute data from rubbish collected during beach and river clean-up events to the AMDI Database, and then work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source. The AMDI helps communities look after their coastal environment by providing resources and support programs, and collaborates with industry and government to create change on a large scale.

In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the ocean. 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..." When, after a week-long clean-up event, the whales and dolphins come close to our beach and slap their flippers, we sometimes wonder if it is Tangaroa saying "thank you".

10 Million Items Recorded in the AMDI Database

10 mill 01Tangaroa Blue Foundation reveals details of 10 million items littering our waterways and coast.
An Australian first study into the origin of rubbish in our oceans and waterways has found plastic fragments, cigarette butts and plastic lids & bottlecaps are the main contributors to pollution.

The study, which provided over 100,000 volunteer opportunities across Australia, collected 10 million items of rubbish and recorded them in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database in a bid to help save our oceans from plastic and debris.

“By understanding where this rubbish is coming from we can stop it at the source before it enters the environment,” says Heidi Taylor Managing Director of Tangaroa Blue.


The Last Straw on the GBR Video

More than 32 Cairns and Port Douglas businesses have joined The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef! Check out how to get involved!

Plastic makes corals 20 times more susceptible to disease

Tangaroa Blue Coral BottleResearch published today in the journal “Science” indicates that contact with plastic can make corals more than 20 times more susceptible to disease, and that there are more than 11 billion pieces of plastic debris on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific. The study examined more than 124,000 reef-building corals and found that 89% of corals with trapped plastic had visual signs of disease - a marked increase from the 4% chance of a coral having disease without plastic.

In 2016 AIMS published “Identification, impacts, and prioritisation of emerging contaminants present in the GBR and Torres Strait marine environments” which suggested that marine plastic pollution was the number one emerging threat to certain marine ecosystems along the Great Barrier Reef.

With the current investment in the health of the GBR announced over the last week, which did not include any funding or focus on marine debris and plastic pollution, we would like to highlight the importance of acknowledging the significant threat that marine debris, and in particular plastic pollution, poses to building the long term resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.


Cigarette butt litter in FNQ

Cigg butt bins PDComplaints about cigarette butts in the streets and on beaches in Port Douglas in Far North QLD led Tangaroa Blue and the Douglas Shire Council to host a litter source reduction plan workshop in December last year and now the community is invited to join in to implement the cigarette butt litter project in the region!

The first step was to identify where the cigarette butts were being littered, so Tangaroa Blue joined Council for an audit early in the morning, before the street sweepers came through the main street to see where the cigarette butt hotspots were - you can see the map with January's audit here.

 The next step is to engage the main street businesses in the project and look at cigarette butt infrastructure - from personal to the permanent cigarette butt bins.

At the moment we are asking community members to collect their mint tins and drop them off at one of eight drop-off places before the end of January. These tins will be re-branded as personal ashtrays and be given out to smokers.


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Did you know?

Since 2004 Tangaroa Blue volunteers and partners have been hard at work cleaning our beaches!

  • Number of clean-up sites: 2 460
  • Number of volunteers: 99 214
  • Number of tonnes removed: 878 tonnes
  • Number of items removed: 9 787 171 items
  • Number of volunteer hours: 249 085 hours
  • Number of clean-ups: 10 992