A massive 1.7 tonnes of marine debris, equal to the weight of a small car, was picked up and sorted by 15 Tangaroa Blue volunteers and Apudthama Rangers recently during a Cape York beach clean-up event. 74 000 items of debris were collected by the team who travelled to the 5 Beaches Loop located at the tip of Cape York. The debris was removed and sorted over 5 days from just over 5 kilometres of beach. The total is a 30% increase from last year.
Plastic fragments from drink bottles, oil bottles and bleach bottles made up 50% of the load. Other items filling 246 bags during the event were:
- 1819 soft plastic fragments – mostly from plastic shopping and fishing bait bags
- 14 460 plastic bottle lids
- 1024 bottles
- 1000 bleach bottles
- 755 toothbrushes
- 313 cigarette lighters
- 299 aluminium cans
Other stranger items found were an archery arrow and two fluorescent glass tubes while marine life hazards found were 36 squid jigs and many metres of tiny rope fragments. These pose a lethal risk to turtles and seabirds who ingest them and can die a slow death.
The event was supported by the Apudthama Rangers, NPA Regional Council and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Tangaroa Blue run six beach clean-up events over the dry season in Cape York each year, working with Indigenous Rangers, community volunteers and local school students.
All the items found are entered, into the Australian Marine Debris Database (AMDI). This is an open access database that all events can contribute to via data sheets. The AMDI can be accessed by government agencies, schools and organisations to request data on marine debris in Australia for educational and research purposes.