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".
The Townsville Oonoonba Wetlands Clean-up inspired 41 volunteers and staff to partake in the four day, 42Ha clean-up event! From March 5th to 8th four trailers loaded with tyres were removed and dumped along with white goods, furniture and even street signs. The team came across a copious amount of broken glass that was dreadful to pick up and count along with numerous glass bottles filled with smelly mangrove mud. It was definitely no beach clean-up, the tides and rainfall created a muddy mess for our crew and volunteers which ultimately made it a great time in the end. Their hard work amounted to the removal of almost 2 tonnes of rubbish, including 570kg worth of tyres!
The final day, Bono’s Bobcat was on-site trucking out over 23 tonnes of concrete that was illegally dumped. In the past this area was pounded by constant illegal dumping, and local littering from activities that included fishing on the banks and vehicle activity on the mudflats.
A number of special ‘tackle bins’ have been installed at popular fishing spots around the Gold Coast in an attempt to reduce the amount of fishing line litter around the city.
Kellie Lindsay, coordinator of the Gold Coast Marine Debris Network, said “the Gold Coast experiences the highest incidence of littered fishing tackle of any urban area in Australia. This causes hundreds of entanglements of birds and other wildlife every year, and also causes threats to children and pets.”
When we think of marking a special occasion we often think of using balloons. But not many people are aware of the impact that balloons (and attachments such as ribbon and plastic ties) can have when they enter the environment.
Reserch has found that balloons are in the top three most harmful pollutants threatening marine wildlife for both entanglement and ingestion.
The impact balloon litter can have has been well documented in the Flesh-footed Shearwaters on the remote Lord Howe Island. During annual surveys of the colony, balloons and their attachments are one of the most readily identifiable items found inside the stomachs of both adults and chicks. Chicks are mistakenly fed the litter by their parents and can be left too weak to leave the nest. The decline in shearwater numbers on the island is directly linked to the ingestion of this marine debris, with a warning that many seabirds could be facing a similar fate.
Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks have launched “When balloons fly”, alongside researchers at Lord Howe Island, to highlight the impact of balloons on seabirds and other wildlife and call on Australians to make a switch to bubbles at their outdoor events.
You can be part of the solution. Visit zoo.org.au/balloons and join the growing list of people making a promise to make outdoor events wildlife friendly.
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