Report by Tangaroa Blue volunteers Karina Weger & Andreas Redtenbacher
8am on a bright Saturday morning 33 volunteers met up with the crew of Tangaroa Blue at the Port Douglas boat ramp to head out to Snapper Island for the annual island clean-up. The event was funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and is part of ReefBlitz, a month long event inviting citizen scientists to assist in evaluating the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
Being split up into several groups to cover the whole coastline of the island, volunteers jumped on boats provided by Wavelength Reef Cruises and Windswell Kitesurfing & Standup Paddle. Enjoying the ride on the pristine waters we were excited about what 'treasures' we will find.
Before coming ashore we already see a huge fridge-door lying on the white sand waiting for us to be collected. Along the sandy beaches as well as the rocky parts of the shore we keep an eye out for all different kinds of human-made rubbish. Having it cleared within a few hours our mission is not yet fully accomplished.
We indulge ourselves with a delicious lunch sponsored by Under Wraps and then sort, weigh and record
every single piece of rubbish. The result is fascinating and appalling at the same time: 2,025 individual items with a total weight of 290kg. 363 little hard-plastics, 187 plastic drinking bottles, 360 pieces of polystyrene foam packaging, 178 pieces of broken glass, 60 thongs, 1 wetsuit as good as new, and 1 tinnie just to give you a few numbers. Back on the mainland the rubbish will either be recycled, processed as art or disposed for free thanks to the Douglas Shire Council.
As Tangaroa Blue is focusing on documenting, evaluating, and processing the data we see that this event goes way beyond collecting marine debris. By providing the data to local and federal authorities to track down the sources of pollution, Tangaroa Blue contributes to substantial change. Their work and effort is admirable as well as motivating and we are very proud of being involved!