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.
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!
There is nothing more rewarding than knowing the efforts of Tangaroa Blue, along with volunteers and contributors, are indeed making a positive impact by removing debris from the marine cycle. The data is in and shows a significant reduction! In 2012 we removed 637kg, in 2013 we removed 210kg and on 16th August 2014 our volunteers collected a mere 140.8kg during the Annual Woody Island Clean Up!
We were blessed with gorgeous weather while volunteers searched Woody Island's shore and mangrove edges for marine debris. Plastic bottles, Styrofoam, treated wood, old buoys, glass, thongs, plastic bottle caps, and even a TV was hauled off the island to be disposed of properly. Like all Tangaroa Blue clean ups, debris was processed and recorded for data to assist with creating solutions to stop debris from ever reaching the ocean!
The ocean and all that live in it are much better off thanks to the removal of over 1.3 tonne of rope earlier this month from a beach near Yallingup. The rope, a discarded commercial fishing longline, washed ashore last October during big storms and ended up on a section of rocky coastline between Canal Rocks and Wyadup.