The 2016 West Australian Beach Clean-Up got off to a wild and woolly start last Saturday with some clean-ups having to be postponed or locations changed to foreshore areas due to big swell, high tides and wind that you could hardly stand up in. Others braved the conditions, persevering, with their efforts paying off. Sunday was a completely different day with much lighter winds and sunshine and as a result clean-ups were well attended, and huge amounts of marine debris and locally sourced litter was removed from our beautiful Western Australian coastline.
Held annually in October each year the WA Beach Clean-Up sees beaches right from the Kimberley to the South Coast given a good spring cleaning. This year over 2,200 volunteers came together across 140 beach locations to remove tonnes of rubbish off our coastline. Final numbers are still to be tallied but photos and feedback supplied so far indicate a successful event with many volunteers keen to partake in ongoing clean-up events.
Some of the more interesting finds made around the state include half a canoe found near the Margaret Rivermouth, a couch found in the dunes at Leighton Beach, a brand new selfie-stick picked up on remote Deepdene Beach, black resin pellets found along the North Fremantle Foreshore of the Swan River, and over 500 straws found during a clean-up of the Jindalee foreshore. Big sections of rope have been found washed up along the more remote sections of coastline in the south west, and many rope fragments and microplastics have been found littering the beaches too.
Some areas have reported higher debris loads than in previous years, such as the stretch of coastline between Ellensbrook and Margaret River in the state’s south west where two individual clean-ups reported removing close on 90kg of marine debris each. This area requires rubbish collected to be carried long distances so it was fortunate that there were enough volunteers to share the load. In the more urban areas the rubbish collected is tending towards locally sourced litter with high numbers of bottles, cans, cigarette butts, plastic food wrapping, plastic bags and other single use items being prevalent in the data collected.
There were also some great wildlife encounters with a hooded plovers’ nest found on a remote beach in the Margaret River area, a cormorant untangled from fishing line at Cottesloe, and a welcome visit from a dolphin in Augusta, who came in very close and appeared to be thanking the clean-up volunteers for all their efforts. A few snake sightings were reported too.
Ana Rita Sequiera who coordinated a clean-up Trigg Beach said ‘Sunday was a fantastic day for the beach clean-up. Everyone was really happy to contribute to such a significant action. Some others were curious and helped us out carrying the bags.’
The clean-up received funding from the Natural Resource Management Program, made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation would like to thank Keep Australia Beautiful WA, South West Catchments Council, WA Department of Fisheries, Department of Parks and Wildlife and local government authorities around the state, as well as all the amazing volunteers for their ongoing support on this annual event.
Once all the datasheets have been received an annual report will be compiled by Tangaroa Blue. This will be made available on the Tangaroa Blue website, www.tangaroablue.org.