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.
More than 60 students and teachers from Bwgcolman Community School and St Michael's Catholic School, Palm Island swapped the classroom for the beach as they learnt about how local environmental actions can protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The day-long activities were part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) annual Future Leaders Eco Challenges that raise awareness about how activities on the land can affect the marine environment.
Future Leaders Eco Challenges are about students acting local but thinking global when it comes to addressing threats to the Reef.
GBRMPA Acting Reef Guardian School Program Manager Carolyn Luder said during the day students learnt about marine debris, conducted a clean-up at front beach and analysed what type of rubbish they found.
Ask any seafaring local living in Far North QLD, and they will tell you that if anything goes missing in the ocean near Cairns, you will probably find it eventually washed up on the south-east facing beach of Cape Bedford.
To see the truth in this all you need to do is walk down onto the Cape Bedford beach and look in any direction, and you will see the vast amounts of marine debris that has washed up over the years, and is still washing up on a daily basis.
From the 11th to the 14th of August 2014, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, in collaboration with the Hopevale Congress Rangers and Conservation Volunteers Australia, made an effort to tackle the ever-increasing problem of rubbish in this marine debris hot spot.
Just recently a group of Snowy River Campus students set out on an overnight expedition. We were each given leadership roles in the group and mine was environmental caretaker. This involved picking up any rubbish we found on the way and leaving no trace at our campsite. I was expecting to find a usual amount of rubbish, but not as much as we did!
An astonishing fact that we found out is used plastic dumped in the sea kills and destroys sea life at an estimated 1,000,000 sea creatures per year. I'm really passionate about the environment so I was really eager to take on my role as environmental caretaker and get everyone involved in picking up rubbish as much as possible.
We took with us on the hike two big bags to put rubbish in and in the end we had to resort to stashing the rubbish in our bags – there was that much! Within the 7km of walking we did on the beach we found: 44 foam trays, 12 plastic bottles, 18 light bulbs and 20 glass bottles.
St Bernard's have been at it again, once a month for the last three months we have been taking 28, 14 &15 year old boys down along a stretch of beach on the Great Ocean Rd in Victoria. Once there, we split into two groups and walk for about 3.5 km picking up every bit of rubbish we came across. Anything from car tyres to monomers of plastic. With the focus being on Tangaroa Blue and what they are doing with the information, the boys don't complain about picking up the rubbish, most enjoy the experience and even check the website to see the photos. Our beach is cleaner and the boys are learning about the environment. Win win I say!