When the locals at Cape Kimberley reported that the beach was close to the worst that they had ever seen it due to marine debris washing up, we knew that a clean up was badly needed. Cape Kimberley is a remote beach just on the north side of the Daintree River in Far North Queensland and sits adjacent to the world famous Great Barrier Reef. So when you think about “paradise” you would normally think about a beach just like Cape Kimberley, but this spot is also a marine debris hotspot due to its location, predominate winds and local currents.
Tangaroa Blue volunteers last visited Cape Kimberley in September 2011 for a beach clean up where volunteers removed 442kg and 5686 items, so we were interested to see how much had accumulated in just 3 months. And I have to say we were shocked!
With the help of a quad bike, boat and 27 volunteers the entire 3.4km stretch of beach was tackled hauling a mammoth 815kg of marine debris! Not only was 57 bags of rubbish removed from the beach, but volunteers sorted and counted the entire haul giving us a really good picture of what was washing up.
- 12, 888 individual pieces of debris were removed filling 57 bags, plus some items too big to fit into bags including pallets and tyres;
- Pieces of broken down plastic items made up the most common item with a total of 4559 pieces;
- Second was plastic bottle tops and lids with a huge 3245 items;
- Next was 999 bits of polystyrene foam;
- Then 550 pieces of weather balloon which are released by the Bureau of Meteorology between 2-16 times a day from offices around Australia. These pieces most probably come from the Cairns office and included polystyrene foam, balloon remnants and torches with batteries that are released at night. The Environmental & Sustainability Executive Officer from the Bureau of Meteorology is Ms Sarah Arblaster and we encourage everyone to contact the Bureau and ask them to find a more environmentally friendly way to check which way the wind is blowing! Photo Right: some of the pieces of weather balloon collected during the clean up.
- Next on the list was 532 thongs and then 440 plastic drink bottles rounding off the top 7 items found.
It was hot and sweaty work, but volunteers were dedicated to get all this debris off the beach and the difference walking back down the beach after the clean up was amazing!
A huge thank you to all the volunteers and locals who provided the quad bike and boat and also put on a BBQ and invited us for a swim which was very much welcome after the clean up! We’d also like to thank Garry from the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas who donated a minibus for the day to transport volunteers up to Cape Kimberley. Also to Ranger Sam from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service who removed and disposed of all the debris after the event and even dropped all the empty bags back to us so we could reuse them next time!
We’d also like to thank the Gambling Community Benefit Fund which has provided funding for beach clean ups in Far North QLD during the next 12 months.